By invitation to close this year’s Cookham Festival, Cantorum’s orchestral concert this May celebrated George Frideric Handel.
The major work, occupying the second half of the programme was the dazzling Dixit Dominus, composed when Handel was just twenty-two and living in Italy. Full of vitality and tempestuousness, the piece sets Psalm 110, a fiery text, which Handel’s contemporaries would have seen as one of the ‘Messianic’ psalms (interpreted as foretelling the triumph of the Messiah). The choir combined real power and drama with meticulous attention to detail, and the performance was very enthusiastically received by a capacity audience in Holy Trinity Church, Cookham. All the solo parts were ably taken by members of the choir. Also in the programme was Handel’s The King shall Rejoice, written much later in England, like the better known Zadok the Priest, for the coronation of George II and Queen Caroline. This orchestral anthem in five parts is a joy, both to sing and to hear. We were privileged also to include, as a purely instrumental item in the programme, Vivaldi’s Double Trumpet Concerto in C, with soloists Ian Lynch and Dominic Field. And as an extra colour, the choir sang a cappella the old English madrigal Weep O Mine Eyes, by John Bennett, with the male and female voices split and placed out of sight on opposite sides of the church. The effect was quite magical.