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Lutterworth and District Choral Society Registered Charity number 1048089


‘Since singing is so good a thing, I wish all men would learn to sing.’  William Byrd

Handels’s Samson

12 May 2012


On Saturday 12 May I attended a performance of G.F. Handel’s Samson at St. Mary’s Church, Lutterworth.  Although popular in Handel’s lifetime, Samson has tended to be overshadowed by Handel’s better-known Messiah, but Lutterworth Choral Society, under the baton of conductor Alan Barraclough, amply demonstrated why this work should be heard more often.

 The opening chorus, “Awake the trumpet’s lofty sound” showed off the choir at its best.  It was energetic, with good diction and clear entries from all sections of the choir, and some very sweet top notes from the sopranos.  The choir is to be congratulated for the controlled use of dynamics in “To dust his glory they would tread”, where we were treated to some very effective quiet passages.  In the last chorus of the first half, “Fixed in his everlasting seat”, we heard a good positive start from the choir, with fugal passages handled well, and a good balance between choir and soloists.

It was particularly pleasing to hear the choir accompanied by orchestra, as the acoustic of the church particularly lends itself to this.  At the start of the concert, the orchestra produced a good balance between the strings and trumpets for the overture, whilst in the sinfonia in act 3 they were at their most dramatic.  A good texture was achieved between trumpets, choir and orchestra in “Great Dagon has subdued our foe”; and the solo trumpeter, Dan Chinery, delighted the audience with his brilliant playing in “Let the bright seraphim”.  Continuo player Kate Cross performed with sensitivity and accuracy throughout.  At times there was a rather bottom-heavy texture particularly during the airs.  I feel that it would have been more appropriate only to use one cello during these times.

The audience clearly appreciated the performances from the four vocal soloists.  Katy Dent (soprano) beguiled as Dalila with her lilting tone and seductive quavers in “With plaintive notes”.  In “Let the bright seraphim”, the best-known aria from the work, she sang with sensitivity, to produce charming interplay with the trumpet.  Philip Leech (tenor)as Samson set a scene of total desolation in the aria “Total eclipse”, and then produced a lovely expressive, lilting sound in “Thus when the sun”.  Robert Clarke (bass) sang the part of Harapha with drama and expression, producing some particularly pleasing singing in his upper register, with clear runs and good diction.  The alto soloist, Jeanette Ager, excelled throughout the whole evening.  She made the roles really come alive; with fantastic expression and an incredible dynamic range, she drew the audience right into the dramatic heart of the music.

The applause at the end of the concert clearly showed how much the audience enjoyed hearing this little-performed work.


Ann Winkless