REVIEW: Burgate Singers - Eye Church

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Alain Judd likes to push the Burgate Singers beyond the standard choral works of the Magnificat and the Messiah.

Though perhaps not as daring as Faure’s Requiem, Handel’s Jephtha was still a challenging work to take on.

Dark, episodic, and somewhat protracted, it’s an oratorio without the musical immediacy of Handel’s more celebrated work.

It does have a surprisingly coherent and vital narrative arc - something Judd emphasized with some judicious and discreet cuts to what can otherwise be a long night.

Both Bradley Smith and Joanna Gamble injected a genuinely dramatic feel to the text, and while all the voices were fine, Bozidar Smiljanic’s beautifully mellifluous tone was outstanding.

It’s a shame the piece didn’t offer us the chance to hear more from the Burgate Singers themselves.

But when the chorus of Israelites, or Priests sung, full advantage was taken of the acoustics of the setting, pushing the audience in their pews with a power that only comes from collective voices singing their hearts out.

DAVID VASS