: Saturday 24th June
Venue: St Marys Church, Burwell
Programme: A Celebration of Summer
Featuring: Ely Consort, Conductor ~ Matthew Rudd, Piano ~ Anne Reece Woodward, Clarinet ~ Claire Stevenson
Although St Mary’s Church, Burwell was not as hot as the 40 degrees Ely Consort had experienced in their tour to Italy last year, it was certainly very warm. Fortunately, the high vaults of the church gave much respite.
Ely Consort, conductor Matthew Rudd, Clarinettist Claire Stevenson and accompanist, Anne Reece, rose to the occasion in spite of the heat. They gave a grand concert including in the programme some of the finest composers, so we were left with the feeling that we had been honoured with delightful celebration of our warm summer with a splendid programme of first class music.
The programme included works by Handel, Alan Bullard, Ernest Farrar, John Ireland, Gerald Finzi, Eric Whitacre, Paul Reade, John Dankworth, Joseph Horovitz and Ralph Vaughan Williams,
Many of the songs were performed unaccompanied and ‘Little Birds’ by Whitacre was amazing. There was no doubt that this Spanish song was about little birds for bird calls were incorporated in the sounds the singers were making. When they threw in the air of papers that fluttered down like a flock of birds at the end of the song, it stole the day.
I’ve always loved the lyrical melodies of John Ireland and Finzi and tonight’s compositions were excellent examples. John Ireland’s ‘The hills’ sung unaccompanied, was particularly beautiful and expressive. Finzi’s ‘I praise the tender flower’ was charming with its gentle movement of the parts and the appeal of his melodies enhanced by the excellent tone of the choir. His works for clarinet, especially the Bagatelles, favoured both clarinettist and pianist and the two worked together almost as a duet, echoing each other’s enchanting expressiveness. Claire played John Dankworth’s ‘Pavane and Scherzo with real spirit and we were treated to some lovely jazzy moments.
It was easy to see why the clarinettist’s favourite composition was ‘Lento and Con brio’ by Horovitz for she played this with impressive control, giving the rising notes in the developing melodies notable feeling.
Anne Reece accompanied with sensitivity, enhancing the pieces considerably. She was a real asset to the programme.
The concert opened grandly with a robust performance of Handel’s ‘The King shall Rejoice’, reminding us of the magnificent of the recent coronation of our King, Charles III and the concert closed with an imposing performance of Vaughan William’s ‘Toward the unknown Region’. The latter composition included choir, pianist and clarinettist. The depth and expressiveness of the work was well matched by the performers and made a perfect ending to this magnificent evening.
Ely Consort may be heard in Chatteris Parish Church on the 25th November next.
Review: Rosemary Westwell
Photos: Chris Barton