Summer Concert - A Feast of Song – St Paul’s Church Brookhouse
Sunday 17th June
Elgar – The Black Knight
Faure – Pavanne & Madrigal
Smetana – Ceska Pisen
& Solo performances of songs by Faure & Kalman
This summer concert was truly a ‘Feast of Song’ in which this excellent choir presented a varied programme of unfamiliar works. Throughout this season, the introduction of compositions, new, to a large number of the audience, has been most welcome and one is aware of and grateful for, the extra work this entails. Marco Fanti and Mavis Fletcher as conductors, have done an ambitious and splendid job.
The opening work was a strange and seldom performed early composition by Elgar. There is nothing ‘sunny or summery’ about ‘The Black Knight’!
In this setting of a German poem, the text of which makes a Shakespearian tragedy look optimistic, the choir conveyed the dark drama with all its variety of mood wonderfully well, especially in the last movement, of what Elgar intended to be, a Choral Symphony.
With keyboard accompaniment, there was no orchestra, thereby thwarting his intentions. This may stimulate the listener to look further for the ‘genuine article’ but without orchestra it certainly offers a paler version of Elgar’s ambitious and rather inexplicable undertaking.
Great credit goes to Helena Morwood whose accompaniment was marvellous in mastering a complex and dramatic score.
The second item of the two works of Faure, again gave us an unfamiliar version of a well known work. ‘Pavanne’, not as generally heard, but with chorus added by Faure. The flowing rhythmic patterns and subtleties of tone were excellent as was also the case in the Madrigal, which followed.
Soprano Bibi Heal, accompanied sensitively by Andy Plowman was a joy to hear in songs by Faure and Kalman; amusing, touching and immensely powerful, her engagement with the audience was perfect. This was the thrill of opera at close quarters!
The evening ended with some delightful settings of Bohemian songs by Smetana in which separate sections of the choir provided an exhibition of skill, with one setting for female and one for male voices, sandwiched between two settings in full chorus. The first and third were particularly impressive. Audience and choir clearly shared in the joy that his compatriot Dvorak found in his native style.
This has been a fascinating season. Many thanks to everyone involved.
Elizabeth Cole, Lancaster