Peter Gambie, conductor of the Emsworth-based Renaissance Choir, invariably produces interesting and appealing programmes – and this one was positively captivating.
The main item, Messa di Gloria, was written as a graduation exercise by the teenage Puccini and has frequent hints of the operatic composer he was to become.
Those hints were done full justice – not only by conductor and soloists but by the church’s organist, Mark Dancer, doing grand service in place of an orchestra.
From the semi-professional choir, the colouring of words was exceptional, ‘Crucifixus’ having an aptly cavernous depth, for example, and the fugue at the end of the Gloria was sung with rigorous, uplifting discipline.
Guest tenor soloist Jon English offered pure, raw, Puccinian drama and other soloists highlighted the individual quality in the choir’s ranks. Particular delights in the programme’s first half were O Vos Omnes, by one of today’s most distinctive choral composers, Paul Mealor.