Norwich Philharmonic, Norwich
MICHAEL DRAKE This concert was musically rather inconsistent. Commendable as it was, it was not a programme to fill the St Andrew's Hall (and it didn't), and it was not until Elgar's choral ode The Music Makers that the forces really communicated with the audience.
This concert was musically rather inconsistent. Commendable as it was, it was not a programme to fill the St Andrew's Hall (and it didn't), and it was not until Elgar's choral ode The Music Makers that the forces really communicated with the audience.
“We are the music makers” sang the chorus in hushed tones as conductor David Dunnett led them and the orchestra (leader Benjamin Lowe) to an exciting and well-balanced opening. Mezzo-soprano Janet Shell warmly delineated the solo passages (although in the central section she was overcome by an animated chorus and orchestra) until a passionately-sung climax to the work. The chorus, with well-controlled dynamics, was in turn expansive, thoughtful and declamatory.
It concluded with subtly-painted dreams in the reprise of the opening statement. Oh yes, it is English music but there is no need to make any apology for that.
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The concert's first half had been in stark Gallic contrast in which, despite splendid diction and delicately-shimmering singing from the women's chorus, there seemed to be a lack of real heart to Debussy's cantata La Demoiselle Elue.
Set against that was Poulenc's Gloria with soprano Anna Boucher piercing in the wide-ranging pleas backed by choral work, not always neat in beginnings and endings, but always bright and rhythmic with a spirit of joy and culminating in a reverent close.
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