King Edward VI School
Kicking off with Shostakovich's flamboyant Festive Overture. For what is basically a chamber orchestra [just ten fiddles] they made a splendid noise – frisky woodwind and fortissimo brass.
Salon forces are just what you need for Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals, giving some excellent young soloists a chance to shine: clarinet cuckoo, xylophone fossils, strings for asses, double bass for the arthritic elephant. The serene swan, upstream here on the leader's violin, and the piano duet practising scales ready for their cameo in the next work, another of Saint-Saens greatest hits, the Organ Symphony, with William Foster the accomplished soloist at the console. All three orchestral showpieces conducted by Tim Worrall.
Becky Chant took the baton for Fauré's much-loved Requiem, sounding fresh and sincere, with an open tone from the trebles and some dramatic dynamics. No guest soloists here – like the harp and the organ, all members of the Grammar School community. After a beautiful O Domine – women's voices to the fore, with lower strings – the Hostias from Joseph Clark, and a powerful Libera Me from Tom Mitty. The treble soloist in the Pie Jesu was the confident, pure-toned Mark Godley. And the closing In Paradisum had a beautifully controlled, movingly sustained final “Requiem”.