BEETHOVEN'S MISSA SOLEMNIS - Cheltenham Town Hall
Benjamin Nicholas brought two choirs, a strengthened Regency Sinfonia and an elite quartet of soloists to the Town Hall stage for Beethoven's mighty Missa Solemnis. This is no work for the faint-hearted, but from the initial Kyrie it was evident that singers and instrumentalists felt secure in their roles. Ben Nicholas is retiring from the conductorship of these two choirs, and this magnificent performance of Beethoven's greatest choral work will serve as a lasting testament to his fruitful association with them.
Altogether this was a very special occasion! Under the baton of Stroud Choral Society's outgoing Benjamin Nicholas two large choirs, a sizable orchestra and four good soloists combined forces to present Beethoven's challenging and seldom performed Missa Solemnis. Monmouth Choral Society joined up with the Stroud choir to provide a formidable sea of faces, in excess of two hundred. This choral work presents a massive challenge to amateur choirs which is why we seldom hear it. The demands made by the composer on choir, orchestra and soloists are indeed formidable but I can report that these demands were generally met. The combined choirs sang their hearts out and gave a good account of themselves. The orchestra's contribution was substantial and assured and the four excellent soloists certainly had a busy evening. The concert represented a high achievement for all concerned which the audience recognised with loud applause at the end.