Darlington & Stockton Times
This review appeared in the Darlington and Stockton Times on
5 December 2008.   It is reproduced here with permission.
Copyright   Newsquest (North East) Ltd, 2008

North Yorkshire Chorus
St Mary's Church, Richmond   

 WITHIN two minutes of the North Yorkshire Chorus opening Rossini's Petite Messe Solonnelle, it was no longer the late-November cold snap putting goose pimples down my neck, but a sense of being overwhelmed by the occasion and by the sound.
      The power of the singing in such a splendid setting was truly impressive.
        That the choir was not at full strength owing to the bad weather was testimony to those who did make it on the night.
       Though depleted, the chorus was never found lacking, with talented conductor and pianist Greg Smith driving the singers forward with subtle energy.
        There is documentary evidence of St Mary's existence in 1137.  But whenever it was built, it is easy to appreciate the importance that good acoustics played when designing a church in those days - a quality lost in most modern buildings.
        Full of drama and intensity, Rossini's Petite Messe was written not for a church, but for performance to a select audience in a lavishly furnished Parisian countess's town house.  This heartfelt religious work was his last serious work.
        The variety of movements is extraordinary, including sublime solos, delightful duets and tantalising trios.
      At 80 minutes long, excluding the interval, the performance was hardly "petite", but neither did it ever feel long.
       The evening was brought to a climax with an outstanding solo by Anna Burford.  The mezzo-soprano, though slight in stature, managed to pull a powerful voice from the soles of her feet to create a beautiful room-filling, resonant sound.
         It was all a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Mark Pratt

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