REVIEW: Cirencester Choral Society concert on November 23

Born a century apart and with both their requiems outside the norm, this was a fascinating programme where composers John Rutter and Gabriel Fauré shared the bill.

This made for an evening of contrasts and surprising similarities with the choir and soloists engaged in some stunning changes of dynamic energy and mood in both pieces.

The evening began with the Rutter Requiem – not often heard in live concerts.

It’s one of those pieces you don’t think you know, but remembered phrases make it feel, like so much of Rutter’s music, comforting and familiar.

For me, this was particularly poignant to hear just after the untimely death of Stephen Cleobury – his recording with King’s College Cambridge is one of my favourites.

The cello in Out of the Deep was particularly moving.

The changes of mood were managed wonderfully and the Corelli Ensemble somehow seemed to produce a much bigger sound than their numbers should, which made for the perfect extra dramatic moments when required.

Rutter’s Pie Jesu needs both childlike sweetness and adult strength in the solo voice and it was beautifully achieved in Katie Etherington’s radiant performance.

On more familiar ground for both choir and congregation, the second half was Fauré’s lyrical lullaby to death.

Great work from the choir and – given their diminutive numbers – well done the basses for providing the firm foundation on which other parts danced (this was also true in the Rutter piece). Katie Etherington’s Pie Jesu and Christopher Monk’s Libera Me are familiar crowd pleasers and did not disappoint.

We ventured back out into the cold, dark, wet November night the better for this warming, professional performance from a confident choir under the expert baton of Carleton Etherington.

A live musical treat in the beautiful and positively cathedralian surroundings of Cirencester Parish Church.