Rachmaninov June 2018 critique

With friends in the Choir and having sung The Vespers, it seemed only right that I should attend the concert on Saturday and I’m very glad I did. There was a great deal to enjoy and be positive about——– but, sadly, one failing.

Rachmaninov’s All Night Vigil is different to your ‘usual choral work’ and I’m glad that Joel had the courage to persuade Ember Choral Society to undertake it and also the Choir to have the courage to follow his suggestion. The All Night Vigil presents quite a challenge; it was about my third experience of your singing and certainly the best of an already high standard. You all should be very proud.

Perhaps I can deal with the failing first. I was seated near the back of the church and sadly the people in our part could understand less than five percent of what Irina was saying.  Whilst the acoustics of the Church really add to the enjoyment of the singing, they are a major challenge to anyone addressing those assembled. The clarity of what was said could have been better and the reverberations round the church made it virtually unintelligible.  It’s not easy to combat these obstacles and it was rather ironic because the sound set up for the singing was very good.

To be very honest, not hearing of Rachmaninov and his ventures did not detract from my enjoyment, because it was the singing I had come to hear.

I thought the balance and discipline and the capture of the chants’ emotion was extremely good. As a tenor, it is one work where I am envious of the lower basses, who traverse the depths of their range. The deep sound certainly does something to my metabolism! (Have a look at Rutter’s The Lamb). Well done in all parts.

 Finding the notes at the beginning of each piece is quite a challenge and there were very few instances of a slight misfocus in the first few notes. To me this added to the enjoyment as I could empathise with your achievements. The contralto and tenor solos were excellent and their voices were very suitable and much enjoyed. Thank you.

All round it was a very good performance with all voices blending and conveying the feeling of the work. Congratulations to Joel, who is clearly a choral conductor to enjoy – and there are some out there that behave as though they’re in foreign territory!  And congratulations to you all for a very fulfilling evening. Thank you.

Julian Rye

June 17th 2018.

 

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