from the Wokingham Times, April 2002
THE Mass in B minor is one of Bach's great monumental choral works.
The Wokingham Choral Society, under Edward Gardner, gave an outstanding account of this complex, challenging piece.
Their tidy phrasing, nimble responses to the conductor's direction, and rich tone were impressive and showed that the singers had a true understanding of the music, which is something that comes from a lot of study and practice.
The quality of their singing was apparent right from the confident opening bars of the 'Kyrie'.
The velvet smoothness of the legato 'Gratias agimus tibi' and the 'Dona nobis pacem' was lovely.
The splendid 'Sanctus', which Gardner took at a brisk pace, was as joyous as the composer intended it to be.
The Chimera Baroque Orchestra accompanied with a light touch. Their bright brasses matched the singing well in the 'Hosanna'.
The soloists all gave interesting performances; William Towers has a remarkable, clear, alto voice, and his 'Agnus Dei' was perfect.
This was Edward Gardner's last performance with the society. He is leaving to take up the assistant conductorship of the Hallé Orchestra.
His successor will not be taking up his appointment until the autumn, but there will be a Summer Concert at All Saints' Church in Wokingham on June 22 under the baton of the society's accompanist, Denny Lister.