Reviews from Broadcast Media
“If you want to hear good choral singing then listen to this!”
David Mellor referring to our CD ‘Rise Heart’ – Classic FM 22nd October 2011
Reviews from print media and online
Messiah Concert 2012
The choir was responsive to the call for dramatic contrasts, from the outset the orchestra demonstrated poise and balance. The intimate company had its work cut out filling the glorious space of Worcester Cathedral, but by the same token the tighter ensemble made for a more controlled light and shade, and when the big moments came they were especially dramatic.
Extracts from Katherine Dixson’s review on the bachtrack website. Read the full review here.
Rise Heart CD
“Elgar’s Memorial Ode for Queen Alexandra of 1932, practically unknown until its recent revival, emerges under Shellard’s direction as much more than an exercise in nostalgia. Choir, conductor and organist also tease out turbulent emotions from below the elegiac surface of the same composer’s The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.”
Classic FM Magazine, November 2011
WHEN a CD of Christmas music arrives for review only days before Christmas, the review is submitted for a February 1 deadline for publication in the May/June issue of Fanfare—hence a review of Christmas music appearing in midsummer. Despite the delay, this disc immediately commends itself for a rather surprising reason: So far as I can tell after extensive combing of the Internet, it is the only disc that pairs two holiday mainstays from the 20th century, the Vaughan Williams Fantasia and the Britten Ceremony. Why this seemingly obvious coupling has not occurred before is a mystery to me. Fortunately the performances of those two works, and also of the various filler pieces, are all quite fine; the choir sings with sweet tone and accurate ensemble and intonation, and the occasional instrumental and vocal soloists all execute their parts quite ably. Though one might argue that some other individual recording of each piece is superior, it’s hard to beat the convenience of getting the two in tandem. For what it’s worth, this is the premiere recording of the arrangement of the Rose Carol of recently deceased organist Harrison Oxley, the only current recording of the two works by Steven Kings, and one of only two recordings in print of the Rütti; all the other works have multiple versions available. The recorded sound is clear, crisp, and somewhat distant, but appropriately so as it provides exactly the aural perspective that a listener sitting in the cathedral nave would have of a choir up in the chancel. Full texts are provided. Regent has a winning entry here, and this is warmly recommended as a year-end holiday stocking stuffer.
James A. Altena, FANFARE (US) June/July 2011
10th anniversary concert – Haydn’s Creation 2009
STEPHEN Shellard is something of a marvel when it comes to conducting Worcester Cathedal Chamber Choir with Worcester Chamber Orchestra. His attention to detail in the score of Haydn’s The Creation did not leave anything for the audience to desire. Showing a profound understaning of Haydn’s style of composition, Shellard nurtured up to the very last note every phrase in the orchestral accompaniment as though looking after a baby in arms. Lively chorus and aria numbers in the piece had him maintining control of the choral and orchestral forces. To match, efforts from soloists were very memorable. There were occasionally tuning problems in Hannah Atherton’s notes, but again, she was able to produce a purity of tone and told the story of the piece movingly. A great body of sound emerged whenever all three soloists — Atherton, James Atherton and Nick Perfect sang together.
Lucas Ball, Worcester News, 25th November 2009
Concert in St Swithun’s as part of the St Swithun’s Festival 2009
FILTHY weather can make concert-going difficult. But the Worcester Cathedral Chamber Choir’s concert did have an audience and attentive listeners were dotted around the pews at St Swithun’s on Thursday night. Something must have drawn these people in and that something was the quality of the singing that the Chamber Choir is known for. Communication of the music’s subject matters showed in conductor Stephen Shellard’s reading of all pieces. He managed to make the material into a drama while pianist John Wilderspin provided supportive accompaniment. From the beginning of Mozart’s Spatzen Messe to the variety of pieces performed in Part 2 of the concert, Shellard’s conducting style was energetic. The Ave Verum movement in the Mozart mass was so romantic that it hardly sounded like Mozart. This is not a huge problem, but Mozart purists might have found the indulgence and sentiment that came over too much of a good thing. During Thomas Morley’s madrigal Now is the Month of Maying, Shellard and the choir maintained the sort of energy released in the Mass. Towards the end of the concert, things got really sentimental and American in An American Serenade arranged by Donald Hunt. This hardly could have been more different from the beginning genre-wise, but Shellard’s fervour was there right to the end.
Lucas Ball, Worcester News, 17th July 2009