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A Fascinating Anthology

Music on the theme of angels,


For their latest concert (St Mary's Church, Bridgegate, Derby, UK, 6 November 2009) the Derwent Singers and conductor Richard Roddis put together a fascinating anthology of pieces on the theme of angels, with composers ranging from Weelkes and Dering to Jonathan Harvey and Eric Whitacre.

The layered textures of Weelkes' Gloria in Excelsis Deo were nicely clarified, and there was a fine sense of rhythmic drive in Dering's Factum est Silentium. Dering was also represented by the treble duet Above him stood the Seraphim, in a performance that highlighted contemporary Italian influences.

Glinka's Cherubic Hymn, sung in Russian, quickly recovered from momentary uncertainty, and was given some particularly expansive phrasing. The tricky tuning in Whitacre's Lux Aurumque was not quite flawlessly negotiated, but there was a fine sense of atmosphere.

'Duo Seraphim', from Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers was given a vivid performance, with the voices well differentiated, and solid support from Jeremy Leaman on lute. Two contrasting movements from Britten's The Company of Heaven -- a 1937 radio score given a new lease of life as a concert work in 1989 -- were finely characterised, and the choir gave a sensitive account of Harvey's The Angels. The final item, the Sanctus from J S Bach's B minor Mass, was less effective; the tempo felt insecure at times and textures occasionally lacked clarity.

Besides playing for the choir, organist Tom Corfield also contributed highly coloured readings of Alan Ridout's Jacob and the Angel, and 'Les Anges' from Messiaen's La Nativité du Seigneur.

Copyright © 26 November 2009 Mike Wheeler,
Derby UK








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