January 2015
Cockermouth Harmonic Society

REVIEW: COCKERMOUTH HARMONIC SOCIETY CONCERT 31 JANUARY  2015


A good sized and appreciative audience attended the Cockermouth Harmonic Society’s concert at Christ Church on Saturday evening. They were rewarded with an interesting and well balanced programme, performed with skill and enthusiasm by all participants.


The choir was on very good form. They sang confidently with clear diction and warmth of tone. They had a good grasp of the complex rhythms in Poulenc’s Gloria and intonation was mostly secure.


On this occasion the performers sang from the gallery, which made for successful co-ordination with the organ accompaniment, so often difficult to achieve. A rousing organ introduction set the scene for Poulenc’s lively Gloria which the choir performed with freshness of tone, clear diction and dynamic contrasts between full rich singing and effective soft passages.


Julie Leavett sang the two lovely soprano solos with a pure voice, soaring over the gentle and sensitive choral accompaniments.


Throughout the piece, Ian Hare achieved a myriad of orchestral colours, exploiting the many qualities of the Christ Church organ.


The second work was ‘The Flight into Egypt’ from Berlioz’ Childhood of Christ. The organ introduction skilfully represented the orchestral score and ‘The Repose of the Holy Family’ was hauntingly beautiful. ‘The Shepherds’ Farewell’ was sung with warmth and simplicity by the choir, and Alexander Banfield’s ravishing voice and tender lyrical performance as Narrator were very moving.


Mendelssohn’s ever popular Hymn of Praise followed the Interval. The striking organ introduction set the scene for the full blooded choral entry ‘All men, all things’ followed by well executed fugal passages in ‘Praise the Lord with Flute and Harp’. Fiona Weakley’s clear soprano voice reached the high notes with ease, and in the duet with Julia Leavett ‘I waited for the Lord’ the soloists interweaved most effectively.

Alexander Banfield’s moving and beautifully phrased performance of ‘He counteth all your Sorrows’ led into ‘All ye that cry unto the Lord’ which the chorus sang with tenderness and long sustained phrases. His dramatic recitative with repeated questioning of the Night Watchman was answered by a strong affirmation from the choir that ‘The Night is Departing’. There was some lovely soft singing in the Chorale. Fiona Weakley and Alexander Banfield were well balanced in their duet ‘My Song shall be alway Thy Mercy’. A strong entry from the bass section introduced the final chorus ‘Ye Nations’ followed by a well executed fugue, and culminating in a convincing spirited climax.


Ian Thompson has a great rapport with this choir, and his technical skill and musicianship inspire them to reach high levels of performance.

This was an uplifting occasion and did much to brighten up the dark winter’s night.


Sue Johnson


2015 January Concert