Five stars for Mendelssohn and Mozart concert

Music making of the highest order was on offer when Bristol Choral Society presented a hugely enjoyable and accessible programme at the Colston Hall.

Whilst Mozart’s Great Mass was the main work of the evening, the programme included a fine performance of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with soloist Julia Hwang. A former pupil at Clifton College and now student at Cambridge, Julia’s playing was both technically assured and polished. Much of her playing displayed an intensity of musicianship – adopting a tempo for the first movement, in particular, which allowed the music to ‘unpack’ itself in an unhurried manner, whilst allowing dramatic moulding of the cadenza.

Julia was superbly supported by the Bristol Ensemble who, under excellent leader Roger Huckle, played with unfailing sensitivity.

The choir came into their own with the evening’s opening piece – Mendelssohn’s ‘Hear My Prayer’, with soloist Lucy De Butts singing the famous concluding part (‘O for the Wings of a Dove’) so often sung by a boy treble. The soloist’s impassioned pleas were more than matched by the excellent singing and dramatic contrasts of the choir.

Under their new conductor, Hilary Campbell, the Choral Society seems to have found a new ‘voice’. Their singing is committed and inspired, and projected with a sense of purpose and clarity which is utterly compelling and absorbing. Their control of dynamics is outstanding and the warmth of their tone quite beguiling.

***** Martin Firth, Bristol Post