Friday, July 01, 2011

Summer Concert at Chelmsford Cathedral

A lovely midsummer miscellany from the Chelmsford Singers. They began with Schutz, an exhortation to Sing and Be Joyful, and ended with Brahms' gentle Geistliches Lied, both works performed with rich tonality and infectious enthusiasm.
The major work was a new cantata by Joseph Phibbs, commissioned last year by Saxmundham Rotary, here receiving its second performance. Shadows of Sleep takes its theme from Belloc's The Night, and weaves other verse, from Milton to limerick, into a fascinating sequence; ambitious and challenging, it involved the choristers and consort of the Cathedral as well as the adult choir, plus Tomoaki Kimura playing the demanding piano part, and Sam Wilson on percussion. Three martial poems dominated – a muscular setting of Julian Grenfell, a dramatic Charge of the Light Brigade, and Chave's Night Bombers, ending with a violent sunburst from the choir. Heady stuff, but leavened by gentler moments, like the Lear, or the Yiddish Lullaby.
After the interval, we heard organ music from Bach [Oliver Waterer the soloist] as well as two familiar Bruckner motets, performed with exemplary discipline and attention to detail, and Buxtehude's Magnificat, a very attractive setting, although of doubtful provenance, featuring some sensitive solo work from within the choir.
Chelmsford Singers were conducted by Peter Nardone, who also conducted the Phibbs at its Snape première. 

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