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Splendidly Wide-ranging

The Sitwell Singers' Christmas concert,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER


Once again, the Sitwell Singers came up with a splendidly wide-ranging programme for their Christmas concert [St John's Church, Bridge St, Derby, UK, 11 December 2006], with some unexpected items alongside the usual Carols for Choirs repertoire.

There were some fine performances, with all the usual Sitwell virtues of fine blend and balance, with straightforward items like G R Woodward's Up! Good Christen Folk coming over particularly well. (Incidentally, does anyone else out there find Woodward's carol lyrics impossibly stilted?) Morten Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium, pretty much a modern classic now, was handled with great tonal beauty, as was John Joubert's There is no Rose, and Britten's Hymn to the Virgin (though the magical alteration to the final cadence in the third verse of the Britten didn't materialise).

The Renaissance repertoire was represented by Dering's Quem vidistis, Pastores, in which the final Alleluias were kept light and airy, and Jakob Handl's Omnes de Saba Venient, in which there were some insecure moments, as there were in Mendelssohn's Im Advent ('Lasset uns frohlocken').

The more rumbustious numbers were a touch on the polite side; William Billings' Bethlehem could have been earthier, though William Mathias' Sir Christèmas built well following a restrained start.

Copyright © 16 December 2006 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK




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