Britten Sinfonia and BBC Singers
MICHAEL DRAKE St Andrew's Hall, Norwich
The Britten Sinfonia are an ensemble of which I for one never tire, for whatever their programme – last evening's focus was on peace – they always play it with class.
Thus, under their always lively conductor Nicholas Cleobury, Bach's Orchestral Suite No 3 contained outer coverings of stateliness and lively dialogue with sprightly gavottes and a very pacey final gigue producing Bach at his brightest.
The Premier of Judith Bingham's The Christmas Truce, inspired by the cease-fire in the first Christmas of the first world war, upheld the Sinfonia's reputation for innovative programming. While often musically predictable, it is nevertheless poignantly atmospheric with its backing of trumpet calls, percussive explosions and screaming shells.
The BBC Singers coloured the narrative with exemplary projection and diction, and I found this first hearing quite emotional, particularly in the symbolic closing of “English” and “German” ranks during the final hymn. Perhaps it should be performed before any conflicts break out.
In contrast, Finzi's In Terra Pax had a seasonal gentility with Stephen Charlesworth's high baritone being well projected in a detached way, and soprano Elizabeth Poole singing with great clarity in another work of musical colour if not huge substance.
- 1 Norfolk village named among poshest places to live in the UK
- 2 Couple explores Norfolk homes in Escape to the Country
- 3 'Once in a lifetime catch' - man lands monster fish in Norfolk
- 4 What is this mystery tower that has sprung up in Norwich?
- 5 'Fantastic, loving, cheeky' 19-year-old killed in motorbike crash
- 6 Drunk student crashed into hotel wall after drinking tequilas
- 7 MAPPED: Where thousands of homes could be built in north Norfolk
- 8 Tucked-away house in same family for over 100 years up for sale
- 9 Elderly driver taken to hospital after village green crash
- 10 'Ghetto' fears raised over scheme for 725 new homes
Finally, back to Bach and his rarely heard (except as a precursor to the B minor Mass) Cantata No 191, Gloria in Excelsis Deo, which was vocally powerful but with many subtle areas from singers and Sinfonia in a performance of the utmost precision. There should have been a full house.