The following is a short extract is taken from the review in Vox Carnyx written by Keith Bruce. Follow this link to see the full review.
"... the ten-minute piece [Cantemus Igitur] remained unperformed until Saturday, when the Edinburgh Choral and its director Michael Bawtree, gave a very robust and full-voiced account of a piece that sounds well worth a place in the repertoire of many amateur choirs, and within the capabilities of many. If there are any difficulties with it securing further performances they are more likely to stem from the orchestral score, which is rhythmically complex, but was very securely performed here by freelance ensemble the Edinburgh Pro Musica Orchestra, led by Gina McCormack and with a few well-known faces in the ranks."
5* Review in The Herald
Using neither a baton or a score, the conductor [Jane Glover] is a Handel expert whose latest book is on the composer’s London years, and Edinburgh Royal Choral Union responded eagerly to her direction, with some fine quieter singing, consistent internal balance of the sections, and notable coherence in the sopranos, whose ensemble was acknowledged by Summerfield as well. The run of choruses at the start of Part Two were especially revealing, with a much less staccato approach to All We Like Sheep than is currently fashionable (and which has the unfortunate effect of stressing the last word of the phrase) making He Trusted In God, which follows a short tenor Recitative, much more emphatic in its absolutely necessary use of that approach.
Details such as those made the 133rd annual New Year Messiah one that will stand out in this choir’s illustrious history.
Read the full review in The Herald here.
A fabulous 4* review in The Herald
She may be petite, but soprano Rowan Pierce is evidently more robust than many sopranos. As she once again stepped in to replace an ailing colleague at a Scottish concert, her agent must surely be pointing out to choirs and orchestras that they’d save themselves a great deal of anxiety by simply booking her in the first place.
There is a youthful look and sound to the whole tenor section of this chorus these days, more than making up for their comparative lack of numbers. Chorus master and conductor Michael Bawtree has his ensemble precisely drilled and there was always the feeling of power in reserve as the piece unfolded: the opening of Part Two’s And With His Stripes was, startlingly, almost sotto voce, and the closing bars of All We Like Sheep beautifully poised and paced.
Read the whole review on the Herald website.
4* review in The Herald
See the original review here.
Kicking off the new year in time-honoured tradition, the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union, accompanied by the Edinburgh Pro Musica Orchestra and John Kitchen on the organ, gave an uplifting performance of Handel’s Messiah in what was their 131st annual New Year’s concert.
Performing this marvelous work every year, the choir must know every inch of the music inside out, and that is certainly what came across, with perfect balance between parts, crystal-clear diction and long melismatic passages tightly controlled. The quartet of soloists were equally rigorous in their portrayal of the piece. Showing a real talent for Oratorio, mezzo-soprano Judy Brown gave a heartfelt and compelling rendition of He was despised, the opening aria in part 2. Soprano soloist Susanna Hurrell brought a beautiful array of colour to I know that my redeemer liveth although her vibrato was a touch on the heavy side. Bass-baritone Tristan Hambleton sang with a rounded warmth, though was sometimes overshadowed by the orchestra, and tenor Elgin Llŷr Thomas gave clear and animated delivery.
4* review in The Herald
Read the full review here.
This year’s performance contained many more musical bonuses as well, however, beginning with one of the finest editions of the scratch “Edinburgh Pro Musica Orchestra”: the oboes were Cath Earnshaw and Rosie Staniforth, by way of illustration. The musicians, conducted by chorusmaster Michael Bawtree and with John Kitchen at the organ, shone much new light on the work ¬– in Handel’s varied approaches to continuo, for example.
Although a little ragged on either side of the interval on the tricky His yoke is easy and the opening of Behold the lamb, the chorus, augmented by two dozen guests from the Orkney Winter Choir directed by Glenys Hughes, were also on fine, poised, and measured form, all the way to the sopranos’ peal of bells on the closing Amen.
4* review – The Herald
... the 129th performance of Handel’s oratorio by the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union may be chiefly remembered for the debut of German baritone and BBC New Generation Artist Benjamin Appl, a real talent of power, confidence and exemplary diction who delivered his first aria, The people that walked in darkness, in Schubertian style and continued to treat the score’s most operative moments as Lieder.
Amid such riches, “The Choral” still managed to shine in its own right, Evans encouraging the texture of the chorus over its power, and the singers responding with beautiful measured poised at the conclusion of the sequence of choruses in Part Two and again for Since by man in Part Three. Chorus-master Michael Bawtree was bolstering the tenor section, so wins credit for performance as well as the drilling.
Click here to see the original review in the Herald.