The Independent London Newspaper

Classical and Jazz: Review - The Royal Free Music Society at St Mark’s Church, Primrose Hill

Published: 14 April, 2011
by SARAH DAWES

THE Royal Free Music Society delivered a sparkling performance of Puccini’s Messa di Gloria under their new musical director Benjamin Wolf at St Mark’s Church, Primrose Hill, on Saturday. He is the musical director of the UK’s leading Jewish choir, the Zemel; as well as both the Wallace Ensemble and Rushmoor Choir;  and he’s choirmaster of the Belsize Square Synagogue.

Orchestral support for the RFMS in the Puccini mass came from the Hampstead Sinfonietta, its contribution benefiting from growth in size and expertise.

Although the Puccini work was written when the composer was only 16, it has a mature operatic feel to it with long, flowing melodies and astonish­ing use of brass instruments. 

The RFMS performance of Puccini’s work was enhanced by two talented soloists – tenor Richard Newman and baritone Benjamin Seifert, the audience thrilled by the brilliance of their performances.

The first half of the concert at St Mark’s involved two pieces with an Italian theme performed with spirit by the Hampstead Sinfonietta conducted by the RFMS’s former musical director Andrew Rochford, a gastroenterologist at the Royal London Hospital. The pieces were Rossini’s The Italian Girl in Algiers written when he was 21 and Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony, mostly written when he was 20 although not finished until he was older.

• Anyone interested in joining the RFMS without an audition is invited to turn up at its next open rehearsal in the Royal Free’s Peter Samuel Hall at 7pm on May 5.

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