Bach and Beyond, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH The choir showed its customary skill and even more versatility than usual in a remarkably varied programme of sacred music, chosen by John Aplin.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

The choir showed its customary skill and even more versatility than usual in a remarkably varied programme of sacred music, chosen by John Aplin.

Bach's motet Praise The Lord served as a rousing opening. Though striking both in contrast and, in some degree, in similarity, Mahler's I Am Lost To The World was not so satisfactory. There was a certain perversity in Gottwald's re-arrangement of the solo setting of one of the great lyrics of Romantic alienation, and the first sopranos could not quite scale the heights.

Schoenberg's Peace On Earth was, however, quite magnificent in concept and performance. This setting of the angels' Christmas tidings to the shepherds stretched tonality to extremes before returning to more familiar ground to create a sense of reconciliation.

Immortal Bach, composed by Norwegian Knut Nystedt, made a great impression too. Again overcoming formidable technical difficulties, the singers created a soundscape of shimmering, slow-moving beauty. The emphasis was rather on melody and tone in four short anthems by Mendelssohn, the pioneer of the Bach revival.

David Dunnett also turned to the 19th century for the Fantasia and Fugue on the letters BACH by Franz Liszt. His interpretation was deft and vigorous, exploiting the seemingly inexhaustible powers and colours of the cathedral organ.

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