<< -- 2 -- Rex Harley FEATHER IN THE CAP
The second half opened with choir and augmented orchestra, including 'all the Queens Trumpeters and Sidedrums', as Walton put it, performing his Coronation Te Deum. It sounded as gloriously brash and thrilling as it should, and might even have overwhelmed the Poulenc Gloria which concluded the concert, were it not, once again, that we had a chance to hear the talents of Angela Kazimierczuk.
The Gloria is a perfect example of Poulenc's characteristic blend of the devout and witty, the latter quality particularly in evidence in the abrupt endings to some of the movements, and final chords which include notes you're really not expecting. The horns made a slightly wobbly start, and one or two of the choir entries in the quieter passages might have been more precise, but the spirit of the piece was entirely there, and that counted far more.
The whole thing is a celebration, not in the formal, and delightfully unsubtle, sense of the Walton, but a quirky, personal celebration of Poulenc's own faith. He gives the soprano soloist some of the loveliest of his vocal writing, and we heard it at its loveliest. There was a poise here, and a sense of respect for the music which eschewed effect. Angela Kazimierczuk never once drew attention to the music's difficulty, only to its ravishing beauty. The final, repeated 'Jesu Christe cum Sancto Spiritu in Gloria Patri', hovered somewhere between this world and the next.
In passing, I feel two other aspects of this concert need complimenting. Firstly, the programme, which contained genuinely helpful and informative material. This included the fact that John Eliot Gardiner's recording of Handel's Dixit Dominus, due for release shortly, features the same soprano as soloist. A treat seems in store. And secondly, the audience, who were possibly the quietest and most attentive I've encountered: yet another feather in the cap of St George's, Brandon Hill.