Furness Bach Choir, St Mary of Furness RC Church, Ulverston

FURNESS Bach Choir, for their first concert with their new conductor, sang two contrasting works from the 18th Century. Thamos, written for a play by Baron von Gebler in 1773, is the only incidental music that Mozart composed. It starts with a rousing chorus praising the sun. The choir sang with the full-bodied power required to compete with the large orchestra. The occasional singing of the virgins and priests with solo voices was effective and gave us a chance to hear the lovely voices of Ciara Preston Myakicheff, Naomi Marczak and Pippa Mayfield, together with Tristan Moore and Ron Eadington. This fine performance enabled us to hear a rarely-performed work by Mozart.

The other work in the concert was the Requiem by Michael Haydn; a great contrast to the Mozart, although they were composed at much the same time. Written in 1771 on the death of the Archbishop of Salzburg by Haydn, who was the court composer and Master of Music in Salzburg Cathedral, it is a work of great solemnity, particularly as Haydn had lost a child in that same year. It has some fine contrapuntal choruses, including the great fugue Quam olim Abrahae. The choir gave a splendid performance of this music. The fugue subject was clearly heard as it progressed through the different voices, and the balance of the choir was impressive throughout the whole work. Haydn also gives the soloists some extensive solo and quartet music, sung by Cathy Styles, Pippa Mayfield, Tristan Moore and Ron Eadington, again showing what talented soloists are in the choir. Cathy deserves special mention for some of the finest singing in the concert.

The large orchestra, led by Julian Cann, had some exciting and demanding music to play. Their scenes in the Mozart, such as the thunderstorm, made great demands on their skill, and they must be praised for the fine performance they gave.

The successful concert showed what a talented conductor Marco Bellasi is. It also showed his expert training of the choir in rehearsal for them to sing so well. It was his first concert with the choir, and we look forward to the next one.