Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Concert review - Anton Bruckner Choir - Saturday 23rd September

Clutching my bags of shopping, I made my way to St Luke's church on Sydney Street (not far off the King's Road) for Anton Bruckner Choir's autumn concert, conducted by Christopher Dawe. The almost last-minute change of venue was caused by the Temple church having not yet completed its planned building work. The programme consisted largely of French unaccompanied music, though there were a few things with organ accompaniment and one organ piece to give the singers a brief break:

Ubi caritas - Durufle
Salve regina - Poulenc
Exsultate Deo - Poulenc
Quatre petits prieres de St Francois d'Assise - Poulenc
Litanies a la Vierge Noire - Poulenc
Chorale in A minor (organ) - Franck
Mass in G - Poulenc
The Beatitudes - Part

Requiem - Faure

In discussion afterwards, it was generally agreed that the first half could have been shorter, though no-one could decide which piece should have been discarded! The choir struggled with tuning from time to time in the Poulenc pieces, which are very tricksy. However, the Gloria and Agnus Dei (with Ruth Beckmann as soloist), in the Mass, and the lovely Litanies a la Vierge Noire for women's voices and organ, were particularly well sung. The one break in the otherwise entirely French programme came with Arvo Part's setting of the Beatitudes. This piece starts off simply and even boringly, before slowly building to an astonishing and moving climax. The choir sang this superbly*, and I don't mind admitting that I had tears in my eyes at the end.

The first half was, as singers had warned me, the more interesting of the two parts of the concert: the Faure Requiem is a bit familiar and even hackneyed by now, though the choir sang it sensitively. The soprano soloist, Helen Cocks, was very good, but the bass could have done with more gravitas in the Libera me movement. The organ tended to overpower the choir at certain points, though otherwise Nicholas O'Neill played well.

The next concert is Monteverdi's Vespers, that monument of Renaissance music: I'm looking forward to it.

* I should say here that most of the singers I spoke to found the Part immensely boring to sing. W. suggested that he should write a spoof piece called The Platitudes by "Avro Prat". I wonder what that would sound like...



At Wed Sep 27, 08:04:00 am, Blogger Who is this Dave? said...

I'm sure it was lovely. If not my cup of tea.


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