Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Friday, July 29, 2011

Exeter Cathedral Choir at Christchurch

Exeter Cathedral Choir in Christchurch
One of the bastions of the English Anglican choral tradition, Exeter Cathedral Choir came to perform at Christchurch Cathedral, Waterford earlier this month. Although I didn't post near the date, such complexity and excellence of the performance in this most ambient setting should not go without acknowledgement in the list of posts. Making a splendid sight in brilliant  red cassocks,  there was less of the ancient and more of the modern in their nicely balanced programme.  A progarmme listing was supplied and Andrew Millington introduced the sets with additional notes. The  choir began with Palestrina, the musical voice of the Counter Reformation moving on to Byrd and Tallis and later to more modern settings mostly from the English tradition including a lovely modal setting by director Stephen Tanner, A Celtic Psalm.  Dublin born stalwart of the tradition Stanford is included with works by Chilcott and Britten. The singers had time to draw breath during two fine organ solos by David Davies. Benedictus by Reger seemed to cast a spell on the listeners and no applause seemed a fitting acknowledgement to conclude. In contrast, the exuberant Carrillon-Sortie by intriguing  post Romantic French composer Mulet which drew enthusiastic applause form the good sized crowd gave Davies the opportunity to pull out all the stops on the Elliot organ. 
For an encore the choir  drew again from the 20th century well in Hymn to the Mother of God by John Taverner. The choir sang with a brio and finesse that one would expect form their excellent reputation .  The range of dynamics  was a striking feature and the Cathedral almost seemed too small for the huge forte they made when at full throttle.
While the state and form generally of cathedral choral styles  is a cause of concern and debate, one hopes that the Exeter Cathedral Choir will survive  for another 800 years and demonstrated very clearly that while a stronghold of the tradition, they also are an important platform for 20th century and contemporary work.

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