Anthony Levert reviews the performance by The Chiltern Camerata and the Camerata Consort

Haydn and Mozart go together like, well….Huntley and Palmers or Torvill and Dean, as proved by the Chiltern Camerata’s concert at High Wycombe’s All Saints Parish Church on February 27.

Haydn’s wit and sparkle came through his Symphony No 56 in C - a work from 1774 when his friend, the late-teenaged Mozart, was already a rival phenomenon.

Conductor Sam Laughton demonstrated his trademark virtue to not make any concessions to the amateur status of his players. The greatest compliment he could pay, of course.

Laughton drove the music forward with an irresistible rhythmic energy, while nonetheless being fully alert to light and shade, and to the musical line - most evidently in his sensitive shaping of the adagio second movement.

Notable contributions came from bassoonist Richard Jacklin and the two oboists, Hillary Evans and Jean Ashford, whose ravishing playing was a delight throughout the evening.

While Haydn is most likely to provide musical ideas, Mozart has more of a way with tunes you might hum on the way home.

The Kyrie - of the latter’s Mass in C minor K.427, formed the second half of the concert. The orchestra was joined by the Camerata Consort. It’s not unusual for soloists in a given work to be provided from within the ranks of the choir involved, but here the two extensive soprano solo parts (one of them intended as a showcase for Mozart’s dazzlingly talented wife, Constanze) present hazards which have proved the undoing of many a professional.

Those two parts were covered by three sopranos from the Consort - Cath Caunt, Geraldine Rowe and Sheilagh Armitt - who rose to the challenge without turning a hair, each offering a fascinatingly different colour and sense of phrasing. The other solo parts were taken, with aplomb, by tenor Richard Milnes and bass Matt Bernstein.

The choir as a whole were impressively on the ball throughout, successfully taking on the vagaries of the All Saints acoustic. Special mention has to be made of the trombonists Sue Bogle, Jane Hurley and Graeme Hollingdale, whose instruments provide such an important dimension of the sound-world of this wonderful Mass.

Occasionally - as with that Kyrie - one might have wished for the music to have been a little less driven, but such a minor observation pales into insignificance alongside so many musical riches on display. It’s pleasing to add that the evening was supported by an impressive audience who cheerfully braved one of the winter’s colder nights. They were amply rewarded.

By Anthony Levert