CONCERT REVIEW: Mozart Mass in C Minor, Carter Benedicite

Review in York Press

York Musical Society, York Minster, March 20, 2016

Mozart’s Mass in C minor is a rarity. It would be given much more often if only he had finished it. So it was a real treat to hear in York, not least with two soprano soloists of exceptional calibre.

Haydn’s Representation of Chaos and Andrew Carter’s colourful Benedicite were performed ahead of it in Saturday’s programme conducted by David Pipe.

What remains of the mass after only half a Credo and no Agnus Dei is still Mozart at his best. York Musical Society clearly thought so too. The choir, with sopranos in particular sounding rejuvenated, delivered a majestic Gratias Agimus, a truly penitential Qui Tollis and plenty of welly to close the Gloria.

Only the fugal Osanna lacked definition. The orchestra provided sterling support throughout, the strings working tirelessly.

Anita Watson negotiated the wide leaps of Christe Eleison with aplomb, and her lithe soprano was entrancing at Et Incarnatus. Mezzo-soprano Esther Brazil made an exciting impact with her coloratura in Laudamus Te, and teamed smoothly with Watson in the turbulence of Domine Deus.

The York Civic and York Junior Youth Choirs joined YMS for the non-liturgical parts of the Carter work, introducing amusing characters “that Noah forgot to mention”, such as badgers, butterflies and grannies.

The combined choirs captured the music’s overall reverence well, but words were too often indistinct despite – a definite bonus – being in the printed programme. It remained for the orchestra to paint the work’s brightest hues.

Review by Martin Dreyer