Saturday, March 01, 2008


Andrew Fardell and the Waltham Singers


Andrew Fardell celebrated twenty-five years as Musical Director of the Waltham Singers last weekend. And the Singers made him a present, not of a carriage clock or cuff links, but of a new work from leading British composer Roxanna Panufnik.

So Strong Is His Love” sets words, chosen by Andrew, from Psalm 102, and was the impressive climax of a memorable concert of celebration. Panufnik had written to the strengths of the Singers, their open, sustained sound, the big choral panoply. It was a magnificent success and as Andrew said, it represented the choir's famous willingness to try everything, to work with unfamiliar music. They were accompanied by the Maggini Quartet, joint dedicatees of the piece.

The evening began with Mozart's Missa Brevis; again the choral sound was superb, especially perhaps in the final Agnus Dei. Mozart's Ave Verum is a favourite of this choir, and watching Andrew Fardell shaping a cohesive whole from so many committed individuals was a timely reminder of just how this choir achieves its remarkable sound. Roxanna Panufnik's 1996 work “Olivia” was equally successful, with the quartet providing a rhythmically rich accompaniment. The words from Tweflth Night were whispered and worried in a Tavenerish manner - very effective, though.

And as a bonus, the Magginis gave us a marvellous Mozart Quartet [K458, The Hunt], the cordial conversation of the opening leading through the easy elegance of the Menuetto and the restrained emotion of the Adagio to the insistently energetic finale.

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