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Wokingham Choral Society

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from the Wokingham Times, April 2005

Memorable Mendelssohn at Eton School
Eton College School Hall

WOKINGHAM Choral Society with the Brandenburg Sinfonia, under the gifted baton of Aidan Oliver, gave a memorable performance of Mendelssohn's Elijah. Written for the Birmingham Musical Festival in 1846, only a year before Mendelssohn's death at the age of 38, the work was an immediate success. It was long considered second only to the Messiah in the oratorio repertoire. Later it suffered somewhat of an eclipse from which perhaps it is still worthily emerging.
As Saturday's performance showed, Elijah is a work of enormous excitement and dramatic force; the powerful first part contrasting with a number of more gentle sequences in the second.

Mendelssohn was greatly influenced by Bach and Handel and this was apparent in He That Shall Endure to the End and Is Not His Word Like a Fire. However his own musical personality pervades the whole, imbuing it with deceptively simple elegance.

As always, the soloists for this concert, Rachel Nicholls (soprano), Doreen Curran (mezzo-soprano), Daniel Norman (tenor) and Sam Landman (treble) were excellent. The foundations of a great performance rest with the title role and the chorus of Israelites. As Elijah, Andrew Foster- Williams was truly outstanding, turning tauntingly on to the Israelites and away from the audience to challenge their worship of Baal in Call Him Louder, and conveying poignant changes of mood in Lord God of Abraham and It Is Enough.

The response of the chorus to their self-inflicted woes captured every nuance of their emotional turmoil and the semi-chorus sang with winsome sensitivity.

The concert was dedicated to Denny Lister, accompanist to the choir since 1994, who sadly died last year after a short illness.

  Robin Eaglen