Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Writtle Singers in the Parish Church

Sunshine and showers, the smell of strawberries … but this is not Wimbledon but Writtle, and these Mixed Doubles are works for divided choir and piano duet.
The main work was Frank Martin's Mass for Double Choir. A stretch, even for the augmented Singers, so there was sometimes more grain than sheen to the sound, but nonetheless a fine interpretation of this intensely personal work, sympathetically encouraged and firmly guided by Christine Gwynn. The Gloria, with its quiet, lambent opening, the dancing resurrection of the Credo, the shifting sands of the Sanctus, all drew us in to Martin's spiritual universe; the Agnus Dei made very effective use of the double choir, with an underlying chant and a more colourful overlay blending beautifully for the closing “pacem”.
The first part of the evening was a typically thoughtful sequence of choral music, beginning with an Ascension hymn by Stanford – the choirs separated by the length of the nave – and including Naylor and Harris [with impressive solos in the closing pastoral moments], as well as an eloquent juxtaposition of Purcell's Hear My Prayer with Chilcott's modern meditation on it, the “My Prayer” mantra repeated hypnotically. Plus enjoyable piano four-hands favourites: Warlock's Capriol, and Ravel's Mother Goose, 
enlivened by snatches from the fairy tales.

photograph of All Saints, Writtle
 © Copyright Robert Edwards 
and licensed for reuse 

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