Concert Information - Concert Review Spring - 2013
On Saturday evening 23rd March at St Andrew’s Church in Paddock Wood we were treated to a wonderful choral concert of liturgical works with both organ and orchestral accompaniment spanning four centuries of musical development. The program, performed in chronological order, and program notes were excellent: the first half of thirty minutes seeming more like ten, and likewise the second half.
We began with Monteverdi’s a capella setting of Cantate Domino. Under the accomplished direction of their conductor Adrian Pitts, Paddock Wood Choral Society ‘sang to the Lord’ with clear homophonic sections complimenting the more imitative passages and, despite hesitant first moments, achieved an assured performance with good vocal balance across the parts.
This was followed by William Byrd’s Sacerdotes Domini, the exquisite harmonies and contrapuntal complexities resonating through the ecclesiastical space.
In a brief sojourn into the 18th century, Henham Chamber Orchestra led by Anri Martis, introduced us to William Boyce’s Symphony No.1 in Bb Major. Performed with joy and vitality, the allegro movements contrasted beautifully with a suitably sensitive rendition of the more moving second movement which prompted spontaneous applause from some of the audience. The conductor generously acknowledged the approval before continuing with the performance!
Cesar Franck’s Panis Angelicus (1872) really was ‘bread of heaven’. It brought out the best in the choir with clear resonant vowels and beautifully controlled dynamics.
We progressed towards the 20th century with Elgar’s Ave Verum Corpus Natum with its sombre text suitably conveyed and a second purely instrumental work, Sospiri, a sweet, romantic piece for strings, harp and organ, which was particularly lovely. The orchestra captured the essence of this peaceful, incredibly moving adagio leaving the audience in a wonderfully contemplative state.
The first half of the concert concluded with Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine, a short, spiritual piece with exquisite melodies and hints of what was to come later in Rutter’s sublime Requiem.
The initial haunting melody immediately filled us with hope and grace. The gorgeous choral writing continued and took us on a wonderful journey guided by the humble words of Jean Racine. Thank you PWCS, beautiful!
Following the interval we returned to listen to the only piece in the evening’s programme by a living composer! John Rutter’s Requiem dates from 1985 and the choir, with soprano solos performed by Rachel Balcombe, rose confidently to the challenge of performing a more modern work.
The choir’s clear diction communicated the varied text to great effect and in the Lux Aeterna Rachel’s soprano solo soared gently to ethereal heights and Susan Mason’s ‘cello and Sheila Marshall’s oboe solos also deserve special mention as should flautist
Emma Pitts, horn player Becky Ellefsen and harpist Anna Wynne. During the Lux Aeterna there was an additional and unexpected surprise contribution from the bell of the church clock striking nine! Other special moments - the choir evidently enjoyed the Kyrie section and Sanctus; the ‘cello was very moving in Out of the Deep and the flute, oboe and horn balanced Rachel’s Pie Jesu to perfection.
Obvious praise must go to Paul Jeffery for his superb organ accompaniment throughout the evening, Rachel Balcombe, who received a cheer of approval from the audience as she took her bow, and of course Conductor and Music Director, Adrian Pitts for providing us with an outstanding and thoroughly enjoyable evening of ‘heavenly peace’. That the evening was a great success was evident from the enthusiastic response of the audience and their rapturous applause as the final notes died away
Paddock Wood Choral’s next performance is on Saturday, June 22nd at St Andrew’s Church and I am sure that ‘Fiesta de la Música’ will be another delightful evening.
Critical contributions from Ken Day - BA Hons, LRAM, ARCM and local professional baritone, Arthur Coomber.