Press releases and reviews
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Here is a selection of recent press releases and reviews of concerts given by Radlett Choral Society.
Nicola Craig reviews Radlett Choral Society’s performance of Haydn’s “The Seasons” on May 19th 2018
From the moment the baton came down on the first thundering beat of the overture, it was clear that Saturday night’s audience was going to be treated to a quality performance of Haydn’s ’The Seasons” given by Radlett Choral Society.
The oratorio was accompanied by a delightful and sensitive chamber orchestra with piano continuo from the locally based, well known musician and choral director, Nicholas Robinson and there were three wonderful soloists. The whole musical ensemble was directed, with poise and enthusiasm in equal measure, by the society’s conductor, Alex Flood.
The subject of the comments I heard most often repeated during the interval and after the concert were, first, surprise that we had never heard this charming and exhilarating piece before and second, that this was a very polished performance.
“The Seasons” has, indeed, been seldom performed in English because the translation was, “so ugly as to make it almost unsingable”. How marvellous then that Paul McCreesh, the director of the Gabrielli Consort and Players has recently made the new, much more approachable and poetic version we heard on Saturday.
As for the polished performance, Alex Flood clearly paid a great deal of attention to detail while preparing his choir for this concert, bringing out the various aspects of country life depicted in the text, from heartfelt prayers for a bounteous harvest, through summer storms, smile-provoking tipsy singing when the wine is being consumed, to the final chorus at the end of winter as the villagers turn their thoughts to virtue and fervently sing of their hope finally to attain heaven. The choir was certainly in fine voice and seemed to relish tackling the challenges of this demanding music.
The soprano, Anna Cavaliero’s performance was utterly captivating, her voice appearing to flow forth effortlessly, beautifully and with consummate control. The tenor, Jonathan Cooke and the bass, Colin Campbell gave us convincingly characterised vignettes of an array of rustic characters, skilfully varying their tone quality to suit the mood of the scene being described.
The orchestra embraced the wonderfully descriptive writing, giving very realistic imitations of cows, cockerels hunting horns and storms. The horns were positively Wagnerian in the hunting scene and most enjoyable it was too.
Alex Flood should be commended for his direction, deftly guiding the choir, orchestra and soloists through this complex work, while always maintaining the balance between the three elements.
Radlett Choral Society gave us a gem of a performance on Saturday and their effort was well rewarded by enthusiastic applause from a delighted audience.
Previews of the Summer Concert on Saturday June 18 2016
Here is the preview from the Herts Advertiser:-Herts Advertiser .
Here is the preview from the Watford Observer:-Watford Observer .
Here is the preview from the Optima Magazine:-Optima Magazine .
St Cecilia Society joint Concert, November 2015 (Review from the Herts Advertiser)
St Cecilia Society shows why Requiem still matters
Congratulations to all concerned in the St Albans St Cecilia Festival Society’s presentation of Dvorák’s rarely-heard Requiem.
Few who heard it in St Albans Cathedral on Saturday could fail to agree that this powerful and dramatic work should be heard far more often.
But when he orchestrated the work he packed the orchestra with instruments such as hand bells, tubular bells, a harp and even an organ which all make very brief appearances but add greatly to the overall performance cost.
With a choir of around 120 drawn from Harpenden’s Hardynge Choir, the Radlett Choral Society and the St Albans Chamber Choir together with the St Albans Symphony Orchestra and four outstanding soloists, the performance was superbly controlled by St Albans– based composer, conductor and organist Alex Flood.
Alex made full use of the fine harmonies in the work and was always in complete control of the complex dynamics of the work.
Unlike many other works the soloists do not have any real arias but their job is very much to work with and supplement the choir.
In this performance soprano Geraldine McGreevy, mezzo Clare McCaldin, tenor Mark Wilde and bass Jeremy White added greatly to the overall effect with very fine singing.
One of the great achievements of this biennial event is that it brings together members of three very different choirs and always achieves a fine result.
This year the achievement was even higher because few, if any, of the amateur performers had performed the work in the past.
Although there were some small moments when things did not go completely right, the overall result was a good performance which shone a light on this little-known work of an all-time great composer.
The three choirs worked amazingly well together and with the orchestra, produced some truly great sounds.
Alex Flood deserves special thanks for daring to choose such an epic and little-known work for the evening. The performance left so many wondering why such a great piece of music is so badly neglected.
Herts Advertiser, 5th November 2015
St Cecilia Festival Concert seeks new friends for Dvorak’s neglected masterpiece
When Alex Flood raises his baton to conduct Dvorak’s Requiem in St Albans Cathedral on Saturday October 31st (7.30pm) it will be 125 years to the day since the great Czech composer completed the orchestration of one of his least-familiar masterpieces.
Premiered a year later in Birmingham , the work displayed the combination of drama, tender lyricism and memorable tunes that are a hallmark of Dvorak’s most celebrated music. Yet after immediate success with English and continental audiences, performances of his setting of the mass for the dead became relatively rare.
By choosing the Requiem for it’s biennial concert, St Albans St Cecilia Festival Society hope to win it new friends. Alex Flood, regular conductor of Radlett Choral Society, will be performing the work with fellow singers from Harpenden’s Hardynge Choir and the St Albans Chamber Choir accompanied by the St Albans Symphony Orchestra.
He said “Anyone who knows Dvorak’s famous compositions like the New World Symphony and the ‘Cello Concerto, can be sure of hearing music that is heartfelt and approachable, but also written with consummate skill. Like me, they may wonder why so impressive a work is not better known.”
The Requiem starts with a powerful depiction of the terror and fury of the Last Judgement, leading to a second part where the emphasis is on consolation for the bereaved, peace, and the tranquil joy of eternal light. Combining a sensitive and passionate response to the ancient words of the Requiem Mass with Dvořák’s command of symphonic development, it provides a powerful and moving musical narrative
The four featured soloists all have opportunities to shine, but their contributions are integrated with those of the choir and orchestra in a revolutionary way for the late nineteenth century Among the award-winning performers brought together for the St Cecilia concert, soprano Geraldine McGreevy has appeared in leading opera roles in London , Cardiff , Berlin , Frankfurt and Paris , as well as acclaimed concert and recital performances. Clare McCaldin, mezzo-soprano, has combined performances at the Royal Opera House and the Salzburg Easter Festival, with solo appearances in oratorios, recordings and her own solo touring company.
Tenor, Mark Wilde has sung with orchestras around the world, as well as appearing in many of the UK ’s major concert halls, opera venues and festivals. Jeremy White, the St Albans-based bass is a favourite with local audiences who performs regularly with the Royal Opera and other internationally renowned companies, and has made numerous recordings.
Charitable fund-raising is an important part of the St Cecilia Festival and there will be a retiring collection after the concert in aid of both Rennie Grove and Keech Hospice Care.
Tickets, price £25, £20, £15 and £10, are available from the Cathedral box office online (St Albans Cathedral Booking Office or by telephone (01727 890290).
Musical Director Alex Flood conducting the joint choirs of Radlett Choral Society and the Choeur de Louveciennes at the concert to celebrate RCS’s 60th anniversary.
Radlett Choral Society Celebrates Sixty Years
Radlett Choral Society is celebrating sixty years of performing to local audiences and those further afield.
The year so far has been marked by two major concerts. In April the choir performed a programme including Mozart’s Regina Coeli and the Beethoven Mass in C. The soloists were Elizabeth Cragg, Deborah Miles-Johnson, Matthew Vine and Christopher Adams, accompanied by the Amadeus Orchestra and conducted by the society’s new Musical Director, Alex Flood.
In June, the second celebratory concert was a shared venture between Radlett Choral Society and the Choeur de Louveciennes, the choir of Radlett’s twin town, culminating in a joint performance of Vivaldi’s rousing Gloria. The concert was a high point in a weekend of activities involving the French choir, which included visits to Hampton Court and Cambridge. To cement the entente cordiale, Radlett Choral Society hosted a gala dinner for the combined choirs and guests.
The year also featured a performance of Handel’s Judus Maccabaeus with the London Handel Consort.
The next event will be the annual Christmas Concert on December 20th at Christ Church, Radlett.
If you enjoy singing and like a musical challenge, please contact the Membership Secretary on 01923 856742.
Vive l’Entente Cordiale! Radlett Choral Society’s President Nicola Craig toasting the French choir and their British hosts at the gala dinner.
Watford Observer preview of Anniversary Concert on Saturday June 28 2014
Here is the preview from the Watford Observer:-Watford Observer .