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Review of Spring Concert 2015

Posted on: 18/04/2015

<h3>Spring in the step after Choral Concert</h3><p>Review in Dumfries and Galloway Standard by Brian York<br /><br />Those with long memories will recall, on the occasion of the Queen’s 60<span>th </span>birthday in 1986, a ditty performed by an army of Cockney kids belting out before the poor lady`s very bedroom “ Appy birfday Marm, Gawd bless ya …” Now this was a serious lapse of taste which has haunted me ever since and which I had always ascribed to Malcolm Williamson. However, I was wrong as it turned out, so that I was, thankfully, able to approach the Society’s Spring concert in St. John’s Church, Dumfries, with an open mind, at least. </p><p>As we have now come to expect, a strong start was made and the choir continued to produce a unified and taut account of Williamson’s “Procession of Palms”.<br /> There were many commendable moments in this short work. I appreciated the well- disciplined control of the terraced dynamics near the start, noting also the soprano, Emma Versteeg’s powerful and grateful voice and the tenor, Paul Featherstone, with his equally powerful contribution, well-modulated voice control and excellent diction. Both managed to adjust to the acoustic of the space and far-from-capacity audience. </p><p>This was a pleasing start.<br /> Next came a work unknown to me – Carl Nielsen’s “Springtime on Funen”. This is an entirely pleasant piece, full of appropriate seasonal joie-de-vivre and conceived in a relatively unchallenging musical idiom. It was given an equally satisfying account, to my ears. This is not, of course, to claim that it was ‘easy’ because all had a lot of work to do. The baritone, Anders Ostberg, was, everywhere, quite superb and I loved the interplay between soloists and choir in the delightful “See, apple blossoms falling ….” involving all three soloists. This joyful music was made to sound just that.<br /> The second half consisted of two movements, “Spring” and “Summer” from Haydn`s great Oratorio “The Seasons”. Although the musical idiom is, of course, entirely Viennese Classical, it is nonetheless an ambitious and challenging sing. Less well known than Haydn’s other masterpiece, “The Creation”, it received a buoyant performance which at times was quite moving and managed to convey Haydn’s innocent delight as he beholds the miracle of Spring. Some people have problems with what they regard as a slightly gauche text – but I love it. If you worry about these things you should keep clear of Mozart’s operas as the libretti often make no sense at all. It is the music that is the glory of it and everybody rose to this producing a sympathetic, if not flawless, performance. </p><p>An evening of many delights. Especial thanks are due to all three soloists and to John Kitchen, whose very demanding organ part throughout the Haydn was accomplished with his usual aplomb, which we have come to regard as axiomatic. Likewise, Margaret Harvie’s piano accompaniment in the Nielsen was, as usual, polished and proficient. </p><p>Lastly, our enormous gratitude is due to Ian Hare who is, sadly, stepping down from his post as Musical Director of this Society. Everybody will, I am sure, extend their sincere thanks and best wishes to him. </p>

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