Adrian Partington to conduct concert of two choral rarities
Bristol Choral Society's 23rd March Colston Hall concert offers two rare treats for enthusiasts of classical, choral or vocal music - Rossini's Stabat Mater and, in celebration of that composer's bicentenary, Verdi's Four Sacred Pieces.
Conductor Adrian Partington says 'these are two magnificent choral works, but inexplicably they are not often performed - and certainly not on the scale of this performance in a major concert hall with large choir, professional orchestra (English Symphony Orchestra) and soloists. Some of your readers may have heard these works in the past performed in a church with just organ or small orchestra, but those forces cannot do justice to the magnificence of these works heard as they were intended'.
Rossini's Stabat Mater has some wonderful choruses, but this work focuses mainly the soloists, with several beautiful solos, duets and quartets including the famous tenor aria Cujus animam that has been recorded by such greats as Caruso, Bjoerling and Pavarotti over the years. 'I have hand-picked a fabulous quartet of professional soloists for this concert' says Adrian 'all with experience singing with the leading opera houses in the UK and beyond - as the Rossini, although a sacred work (the Stabat Mater tells the story of Mary's suffering during the crucifixion) and his sacred masterpiece, it bears the unmistakable hallmarks of a man who had spent much of his working life composing operas that are still well-known and loved today, such as William Tell and the Barber of Seville - and indeed pointing the way to the Requiem Verdi would compose some 40 years later.Soprano Camilla Roberts has often sung with Welsh National Opera, mezzo-soprano Clare Presland has just been singing in English National Opera's La Traviata, tenor Adrian Dwyer made his professional debut in Baz Luhrmann's La Bohème in Los Angeles and bass David Soar, as well as being a WNO regular, made his Metropolitan opera debut last year and returns there next season'.
If the Rossini puts the spotlight on the soloists, then Verdi's Four sacred pieces turn that firmly onto the choir - written when Verdi was in his eighties, they are quite extraordinary and wonderfully contrasted works of sustained genius - the culmination of a lifetime's remarkable musical output. Again, rarely performed (the only other significant UK performance this year is scheduled for the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester this summer), they range from the unaccompanied Ave Maria, uniquely composed using the 'enigmatic scale', to the huge Te Deum for double chorus (in up to 16 parts) and double orchestra, plus of course Verdi's own setting of the Stabat Mater - of a completely different nature, size and intensity to Rossini's - in a profoundly powerful and beautiful setting of the same text.
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Tickets for the 7.30pm Colston Hall concert on Saturday 23rd March (£10-£23, under 25s £5, 10% discount for OAPs) are available from www.bristolchoral.co.uk or from Colston Hall in person or by phone (0117 922 3686)