Performing Verdi's Requiem in Kirby Lonsdale
Review of our Latest Concert
A great English tradition: the Eversley Choir at St Oswald’s, Warton, on Friday, May 6th, 2022.
There’s a great English tradition of people who love singing getting together without any audition or test to sing music from the choral repertoire. Last Friday’s concert by the Eversley choir at St Oswald’s parish church, Warton, was a fine example of this. The choral centrepiece of the programme was Haydn’s Missa in Angustilis (Mass in troubled times or 'Nelson' Mass). Who could have known when this was being programmed how very apt this was to the times we live in?
From the very start, the enthusiasm and energy of the choir was palpable, and, accompanied by an orchestra led by Pam Redman, they gave a full-throated performance. Watching their conductor, Ian Jones, for his precise guidance, their words came over with great clarity, with word-endings – notoriously hazardous s’s and t’s – all precisely together. The orchestra had their particular moment in the extended introduction to the Benedictus, producing a satisfying performance of Haydn’s music.
The team of soloists, Emily Robinson, Kate Noble, James Marczak and Brian Lancaster, matched the choir’s committed performance. A feature of this Mass setting is the confident setting of the final phrase, ‘Dona nobis pacem’, as if the composer fully believed that God would indeed ultimately give us peace. Altogether, a thoroughly satisfying performance in the warm acoustic of St Oswald’s.
Earlier in the programme, the choir could sit and listen, as did the full and appreciative audience, to J S Bach’s Suite in B minor for flute and strings. In this, the soloist was Meera Maharaj, a player with Westmorland connections who loves coming back to home territory and who is often to be heard in the county. As a young musician, she is becoming well-known very much further afield, and we are fortunate that she is able to make time to come and play for us. But the performance was by no means all about the soloist. It was a partnership with the orchestra, with all the players responding to each other in the various moods of the several movements, culminating in the famous Badinerie. A great delight!
The choir and orchestra also performed Purcell’s Jubilate Deo. One felt that this was not really the choir’s home ground, and they really only began to shine in the final Gloria. Perhaps in part this was due to the way the music is written in fairly short sections, so that we were barely into one section when the choir sat down for a solo section. And the soloists also seemed less at home, not always singing out and allowing the trumpet to overbalance them at times. Perhaps the music is not Purcell’s best. As one commentator writes, ‘the Te Deum and Jubilate suffer on the whole from a forced brilliance that seems to have faded with the passage of time’.
The whole evening began with the Prayer for Ukraine, written by Oleksandr Konysky, with music by Mykola Lysenko, for the Ukrainian wars of independence in the early 20th century, but brought to light by a number of recent performances. This was in addition to the published programme, and the audience was invited to stand as it was sung, accompanied by organist Ian Pattinson.
A thoroughly enjoyable and fulfilling evening!
Also don't forget to check out our exciting plans for the 2022-23 season.