This concert was a real test for the choir as our esteemed new Musical Director was already promised elsewhere – how fickle! – so the choir had the pleasure of being prepped by the esteemed Simon Mercer and conducted for the concert by dazzling Jonathan Lo.
What a triumph it was! There is little doubt that the Dixit Dominus, one of Handel’s most fiendish pieces for voice, had never been sung quite so swiftly before and it was a fitting end to a successful night – even though the choir were on their knees! If it was thought that Handel was not keen on sopranos this piece certainly carries that forward.
Haydn’s Nelson Mass was originally called Mass in Troubled Times and was written at a time of intense fear for the future of Austria, whose citizens were not in the best of spirits. In 1797-1798 Napoleon Bonaparte had defeated the Austrian army in four major battles, even crossing the Alps and threatening Vienna itself.
However, the music is, as always with Haydn, a joy to sing.