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London Welsh Male Voice Choir

PUBLISHED: 09:15 12 June 2006 | UPDATED: 15:43 22 October 2010

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral

In aid of the Alzheimer's Society, the four score singers delighted a large, appreciative audience.

The wide-ranging programme was conducted by Hayden James, with Annabel Thwaite as the gifted accompanist and Berwyn Evans as the good-humoured compere.

As well as singing a number of pieces in Welsh, which naturally pleased the strong exile contingent that had turned out, the choir also gave a convincing demonstration of the choral style characteristic of the principality, whether in chapels in the valleys or at Cardiff Arms Park.

The deep basses put in firm foundations of dark tone, which the baritones consolidated in close harmony. Above them the tenors, also in two divisions or even more, constructed a brilliant upper storey. The feeling of solidity was always reassuring.

Now and again, particularly to make early impact or else to provide a ringing conclusion, power was unleashed in nerveless unanimity. But never for too long.

Instead the volume was diminished in an instant with scrupulous control. In quiet passages the impression was never of weakness but of steely strength held in reserve.

Traditional haunting Welsh airs gained from contrast as the choir showed its skills in polyphony from the 16th century and operatic choruses from the 19th.

Favourites from musicals like Les Miserables offered other opportunities for versatility.

Two soloists also showed their paces. A clear, well-focused soprano, Emily Rowley Jones, chose arias from La Boheme and by Handel as well as songs from the shows. Summertime was the most successful. Peter Totterdale was not quite so adventurous, but his lyric tenor voice carried well to convey a message of sincerity and conviction.


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