Elisabeth, our Musical Director, designed this programme to reflect both the French character of the concert’s main work, Fauré’s Requiem, and the fact that we were supporting Amnesty International. The first half included two French works: Trois Chansons by Ravel, and Messiaen’s O Sacrum Convivium. Ravel set three short poems of his own for unaccompanied choir while he was expecting call-up to the French army in 1914. The haunting central song perhaps meditates on the chance of his own death in battle, while the other two have a witty and rather bitter take on old musical forms. Messiaen, too, was touched by war – imprisoned by the Germans after the French forces were encircled in 1940. The choir very much enjoyed the challenge of these contrasting pieces and gave deft performances.
There followed Gideon Klein’s stunning String Trio, composed in Terezín (Theresienstadt) concentration camp in 1944, while Klein, a Czech Jew, was awaiting his fate. Klein, had he lived, would surely have become a major twentieth century composer. The players, Mark Wilson (Violin), Nina Kopparhed (Viola) and Ilse McFarlane (Cello) gave a virtuosic and very moving reading of this work.
We were very pleased with our Tippett Five Spirituals. Not only did we feel ourselves that we caught the passion and emotion of the pieces and sang genuinely ‘with one voice’, but the audience comments subsequently bore this out.
The main work, Fauré’s gorgeous Requiem occupied the entire second half of the programme. It was a lovely performance, very well received. We should like to thank particularly soloists Jonathan Wood (Baritone), Ignatius Crean (Treble) and the superb chamber orchestra who joined us.