The Masters in Concert – October 2021
After what seems like forever, Ashtead Choral Society were able to return to live music‐making in St Martin’s, Epsom, on 9 October. Ably supported by the Kent Sinfonia and a range of soloists, ACS, and their Music Director Dr Andrew Storey, treated us to a programme of Beethoven and Mozart.
Beethoven’s rarely‐performed “Choral Fantasia” is a sort of mini piano concerto combined with ideas that later were included in the Ninth Symphony, and the extensive instrumental introduction gave us a promise of things to come from the Kent Sinfonia, along with the outstanding keyboard technique of pianist Luis Pares. ACS, with interjections from the vocal solo quartet, coped admirably with the unfamiliar German text, and a well‐balanced sound carried us all, at quite a pace, to a rousing conclusion.
The rest of the first half gave us more Beethoven and – even better – more piano! The inspired playing of Luis Pares treated us to clarity, energy, and a remarkable cadenza in the first movement of Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto, followed by a slow movement with delicate interpretation and finesse from both soloist and orchestra. The final rondo sparkled like a fine champagne with Pares challenging the orchestra to keep up with his flying fingers. Just one thought – a gentle solo encore would perhaps have been nice?
The second half brought us Mozart’s “Requiem”. This was a well‐constructed and well‐paced performance, ably directed by Andrew Storey. The vocal quartet of Lucy Cox, Susan Legg, Ed Saklatvala and James Oldfield were all on top of their game and it would be invidious to single out anyone for special praise. One person deserves a special mention though – the excellent playing of the Kent Sinfonia throughout the evening was topped off by an outstanding trombone solo in the “Tuba mirum”.
And what of the chorus? After almost two years away, they were better than ever. Confident entries, bright vowels, subtle dynamics – you could tell they were glad to be back, and the cheers ringing around the church when ACS took their bow at the end showed that the audience felt the same way …
Bring on “Elijah” in the Dorking Halls, on 5 February 2022!
Review by “The Warrior
What the audience said
The Mozart Requiem was the best I have heard Ashtead Choral Society Sing. Excellent diction, fantastic, vibrant sound which had energy and showed off superb dynamic contrasts
Ashtead Choral were on top form in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasia. They drove the piece on to its frenzied, somewhat chaotic, conclusion with style and panache
Luis Pares played with such style, virtuosity and panache beautifully accompanied by the Kent Sinfonia, directed by Andrew Storey. A brilliant evening.