Concert archive

25-04-2015 - PERGOLESI VESPERS - St John's Catholic Cathedral

This was a great opportunity to hear a rarely-heard compilation of Vespers music by the Neapolitan composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi; large-scale choruses combine with subtle solo arias to produce a work of great character to be performed in the spacious acoustic of St John's Catholic Cathedral.
Pergolesi Vespers
Norwich Baroque with Keswick Hall choir, conducted by Christopher Duarte.
leader - Jim O'Toole

Eastern Daily Press review:


Though Giovani Pergolesi's life was tragically short, his music is bright and confident, bursting with innervation and vitality, exuberant with sudden contrasts and glorying in ornate singing.

The Vespers performed on Saturday evening by Christopher Duarte's Keswick Hall Choir was not the composition Pergolesi wrote for a special service in Naples in 1732. no score or detailed accounts of that survive. But the work that we heard was no doubt very similar in form and style.

It seemed very attractive too, apart from problems with the booming acoustic of the cathedral, especially at the start, and, rather unexpectedly, some uncertainties with the antiphons before the psalms. Most of the time though the 40 inexhaustible singers impressed with style and flexibility.

The accomplished soloists were the soprano Andrea Tweedale and the mezzo Fiona Mackay. Combining most agreeably, they were completely at home in the florid elaborations of their vocal lines. The Slave Regina was the very essence of Pergolesi with emotional weight as well as artistic charm.

The strings of Jim O'Toole's Norwich Baroque were always neat and elegant with oboes and trumpets adding a thrill of triumph like the ringing top note of the final Amen.

Christopher Smith.