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The Reeds by Severnside CD reviewed

A TRAWL THROUGH ELGAR'S CHORAL COMPOSING CAREER THE REEDS BY SEVERNSIDE Choral Music by Edward Elgar (SOMMCD 278) We have on this timely and so well-produced release a fascinating guide through Elgar's progress from journeyman to great composer, taking us through the choral music he produced during his long career. No massive oratorios, cantatas or odes here, but a survey of some of his more modest works, often for unaccompanied chorus (William Vann directing the Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea). Andrew Neill's remarkably detailed and informative insert-notes guide us through this journey, which begins with the touching works the teenaged Elgar composed for the Roman Catholic St George's Church in Worcester (barely a stone's throw from the Anglican Cathedral where so many of his greatest triumphs would be celebrated) where he succeeded his father as organist. The very early Gloria perfumes with Catholic incense and the influence of Mozart, repr

Birmingham Bach Choir review

WHAT A LOVELY PROGRAMME FROM THIS EXCELLENT CHOIR BIRMINGHAM BACH CHOIR St Paul's Church, Jewellery Quarter ***** The last choral concert I reviewed in this gracious old church proved a dire experience; not so this one, from the expertly understated Birmingham Bach Choir, so confidently accustomed to the gentle but firm direction of Paul Spicer. British offerings sandwiched three Bach motets, great works which here were delivered in far lighter a manner surely than the way in which the Birmingham Bach Society Choir would have given them more than a century ago. Organist Callum Alger introduced this Bach sequence with the Kyrie, Gott heiliger Geist from one of the organ masses, the complex lines clearly delineated, before the motets then unfolded. Lobet den Herrn was neat and agile, its Halleluja unfolding with great swells of tone. Komm, Jesu, komm is for me Bach at his best, emotion so obvious within every well-controlled bar, and this was a deeply-felt, delicate

Longborough's Die Tote Stadt review

A STAR IS BORN AT LONGBOROUGH DIE TOTE STADT By Christopher Morley ***** What Longborough's cosy yet busy auditorium witnessed here was nothing less than the stuff of films, when a star is born. Longborough Festival Opera was already in the headlines for presenting Erich Korngold's Die Tote Stadt, almost never experienced in this country, but on the second evening of this four-night run Rachel Nicholls, who had herself learned the taxing role of Marietta/Marie at very short notice, went down with a throat infection. Her understudy, Luci Briginshaw, sang from the side of the stage while Nicholls acted sublimely, their mutual lip-synching convincing us they were as one, and Briginshaw's body-language, despite being music stand-bound, totally immersed in the spirit of the action. Her voice held up remarkably in this ordeal the inexperienced Korngold sets both his leading soprano and his tenor Paul. obsessively mourning his wife Marie whilst rejoicing in fi

Norman Stinchcombe reviews CBSO's Mahler 2

STUPENDOUS MAHLER TWO CBSO at Symphony Hall ★★★★★ This concert was billed as an end-of-season finale, a temporary farewell. When the applause, cheering and foot-stamping erupted after eighty minutes of intense, emotionally fired-up music making it felt instead like a long-anticipated, desperately hoped for homecoming. After more than two years of ruined schedules, cancellations and Covid-compromised concerts here was the platform packed with players, the choir seats brim-full with the cherished CBSO Chorus and – the final ingredient – a packed house. It was the perfect choice of work too, Mahler's 'Resurrection' Symphony; the work which opened Symphony Hall and a CBSO musical calling-card for the last forty years. By chance, or fate, the last concert here on this scale – in terms of forces, attendance and impact – was the CBSO's performance of Mahler's eighth symphony in January 2020 when we were blissfully unaware of the approaching pandemic. That evening the

Nor,man Stinchcombe's latest CD reviews

ANOTHER DELICIOUS BANQUET OF CDS -- IF A BIT MEAGRE! NIELSEN & SIBELIUS: Dalene, RSPO / Storgårds (Bis CD / SACD) ★★★★★ On the disc cover gap-toothed Johan Dalene looks like a schoolboy larking about in the Scandinavian snow – but at twenty-years-old he's already a phenomenally gifted violinist. The young Swede won the 2019 Carl Nielsen Competition and his performance of that composer's concerto is an absolute winner. It's a tricky work, there's no big memorable tune to hook the newcomer, and its mercurial nature makes it hard to pin down. No problem for Dalene who produces not only glorious tone from his 1736 'Spencer Dyke' Stradivarius but limpet-like follows Nielsen through every musical mood whether spiky, whimsical or wacky. John Storgårds and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra are fully inside Nielsen's idiosyncratic style and the sound is up to Bis's usual exceptional standard. In the Sibelius concerto Dalene has all the world

, CBSO review 15.6.22

AUTHORITATIVE CBSO CONCERT, REVIED BY NORMAN STINCHCOMBE CBSO at Symphony Hall ★★★★★ How, musically, did the world begin? In Jean-Fèry Rebel's 'Les Èlemèns' it's with an ear-splitting chaotic chromatic cluster chord – a century ahead of its time – which claws its way to tonality. After a depiction of chaos in a murky minor Haydn's 'Creation' blazes into light with a dazzling forte C major. How, musically, will the world end? Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir's 'Catamorphosis' suggests that T.S. Eliot had the right idea; 'This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper." In her twenty-minute work, a CBSO Centenary Commission receiving its UK Premiere, fate doesn't knock at the door announcing imminent earthly destruction through climate change (Catastrophe + Metamorphosis) – it slithers in surreptitiously, sinuously through the gaps. Thorvaldsdottir uses large orchestral forces with immense restraint: ther