Review: The Capella Singers, St Mary de Lode Church, Gloucester
The Capella Singers, St Mary de Lode Church, Gloucester
Gloucester Music Society continues its fascinating exploration of English music, Tonight's concert was dedicated to English choral music, with local composers Holst and Parry providing an invigorating start.
The Cheltenham composer's setting of the Cornish carol This have I Done for my True Love in which Christ recounts his life story was given a finely nuanced peformance by the Capella Singers under the baton of Philip Colls.
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Parry was represented by two of his Songs of Farewell: his gloriously polyphonic setting of Never Weather-beaten Sail and the profound contemplation of life after death in There is an old belief.
It seemed appropriate in a church setting to feature a liturgical work, and John Tavener's Funeral Ikos using the Orthodox rite was the ideal choice. Its simple setting with sections sung either by trebles or lower voices allowed the words to be clearly heard, and the faultless performance was profound and haunting in its effect.
Other highlights were Britten's menacing setting of Crabbe's poem Marsh Flowers in which one could sense the deadly nightshade's poison and the nettles' sting, and John Ireland's lovely arrangement of The Hills by James Kirkup composed for the Queen's Coronation 60 years ago.
Gloucestershire was omnipresent in the poems Frances March read to offer the singers breathing space. Laurie Lee's April Rise and Frank Mansell's The Holy Brook complemented the music perfectly. So did Kathryn Alderman's Climbing Portway, inspired by Ivor Gurney, and Frances March's own On Rodborough Common.
The Capella Singers deserve congratulations not only on the excellence of their performance but also for their policy of commissioning new music. One recent commission they sang was Mark Blatchly's poignant setting of Gurney's short poem The Songs I Had are Withered. The evening ended in a novel fashion with Five Shakespearean Aphorisms – also by Mr Blatchley.