Perth Choral review by The Courier

 

It takes a good deal of musical intuition and knowledge to put on a programme totally devoted to the works of George Frederick Handel. Luckily, the director of Perth Choral Society, Peter Rutterford, has sufficient nous and experience to concoct a programme that in turn gave a sufficient test to the choir and provided enough variety to ensure the audience’s attention never strayed.

What could have been a one-sided trail through Handel’s works was instead a well-measured mix of solo, choral and instrumental including well-known favourites and those less familiar in the Handelian repertoire. Having a good well-balanced chorus does help, as does a fine chamber orchestra – the Perth Sinfonia – and three excellent soloists, in the shape of soprano Emily Mitchell, bass/baritone Jerome Knox and Andrew Digger (trumpet).

 

The concert was titled “The Trumpet Shall Sound”, and we didn’t have long to wait for Andrew’s mellifluous tones as he combined with Emily almost straight from kick-off in an excellent Eternal Source of Light Devine. However, this duet was beaten by Let The Bright Seraphim, from the oratorio Samson, first class in every way. Jerome wasn’t to be outdone, as it turns out. His Where’er You Walk saw him as a lyrical baritone, with his powerful bass resounding in two Messiah arias, dove-tailing perfectly with Andrew in the afore-mentioned The Trumpet Shall Sound, as famous a bass aria as you’ll get. I felt the chorus were in more confident mood on familiar Messiah territory, although that’s not to say choruses from Solomon and Samson were disappointing.

 

Since Peter took them on in 2005, he has forged them into a well-balanced, confident ensemble not afraid to tackle exposed passages with verve and deal with those tricky Handel runs that pop up with alacrity. But these evenings is the sum of three parts, and in their role the Sinfonia produced performances of consummate ease, subtle in accompaniment and resolute in their solo “spots”, with the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba in particular nothing short of excellent.

Review in Perthshire Advertiser, December 2019

Perth Choral Society, with Director of Music Peter Rutterford, gave a brilliant and exciting concert of items under the title "The Trumpet Shall Sound - an evening with Handel" on December 8th in Perth Concert Hall. They delighted and informed in excerpts from oratorio and opera and a substantial selection from "Messiah".

 

The best of starts came with the building of tension, then the full-throated entrance of Perth Choral in the best known of the Coronation Anthems, "Zadok the Priest" with its glorious acclamations. Next saw the entrance of soprano Emily Mitchell in "Eternal Source of Divine Light. Well-pitched and with good diction, she was a little and, here overloud. In the first of happily, many selections, a co-soloist was the peerless trumpet of Andrew Digger, echoing her high lying lines.

 

A majestic "See the Conquering Hero Comes" preceded the second soloist, baritone Jerome Knox in a rounded, warmly confiding "Where'er you Walk". Soprano Emily Mitchell returned operatically with a sensitive "Ombra mai fu,' later with great feeling in "Lascia Ch'io Pianga", before returning to oratorio with exciting, well-placed notes and trumpet accompaniment in "Let the Bright Seraphim".

 

The City of Perth Sinfonia had its high points with strings both agile and strong, well matched oboes in a sprightly 'Arival of the Queen of Sheba' and a well-judged 'Pastoral Symphony' from Messiah. Baritone Jerome Knox returned on martial and impressive form for exciting trumpet duets from 'Rinaldo' and the piece which gave the concert its title, 'The Trumpet Shall Sound' from 'Messiah.'

 

Perth Choral were on inspired form, too: the beautiful 'Nightingale Chorus' from 'Solomon', 'Awake the Trumpet's Lofty Sound' and "let the Celestial Concerts All Unite' rom 'Samson.'

From Messiah' they impressed in 'Glory to God,' the stern fugue of 'And with his Stripes,' its lighter contrast 'All We Like Sheep' and, of course, before an almost standing audience, 'Hallelujah.'