Dvorak’s Mass in D major
Spring Concert 1st April 2017 Portsmouth Cathedral
With Dvorak’s Mass in D major as the centrepiece, Portsmouth Festival Choir– in its first concert with new musical director Thomas Neal fully at the helm – presented a programme of Czech and Russian music.
Sacred works by near contemporaries Labinski, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky and Janacek were juxtaposed in the first half, including three contrasting versions of The Lord’s Prayer. It was an interesting idea and there were pleasing moments.
For the Dvorak, the choir was joined by four impressive young performers from the Royal College of Music, who blended beautifully in the Benedictus and Agnus Dei.
Achieving a balance of voice parts is a perennial challenge for choirs, so attracting new members must surely be a priority for the Festival Choir. What bodes well for its future, however, is Neal’s obvious rapport with the singers and determination to bring out their best.