Review: “An Autumn Serenade”-The Elgar Chorale with Trianon Music Group, St George’s RC Church, Worcester – 28.10.17
The first half of the concert featured The Elgar Chorale under the directorship of Piers Maxim. Their programme opened with two part songs by Elgar-“Go, Song of Mine” and “How Calmly the Evening”. Given that this Church was Elgar’s spiritual home, this was an excellent choice and displayed flawless, first rate singing. Immediately obvious was the tight ensemble, sensitive and controlled handling of the dynamics, together with fine blend and balance of the parts. There was a lovely fluidity and calmness which permeated both these pieces. Two Madrigals by Herbert Howells followed, which were a pastiche of the 16th century English Madrigalists. “In Youth” displayed wide-ranging dynamics – the choir producing a huge, thrilling sound at the climaxes, contrasting with a marvellous, quiet intensity in the softer moments. “Before Me” enabled the male voices to exploit their dramatic and confident timbre, whilst the whole choir had fine legato, neat contrapuntal lines and well controlled chromatic shifts.
Elgar’s “Imperial March” received a rousing performance by Andrew Caskie. This was assured and brilliant playing, Caskie finding some lovely registrations to colour the solo melodies, which contrasted with the majestic sound of the full organ. Elgar would have loved this!
As well as being a fine conductor, Maxim is a composer of lovely pieces of diverse genres and the audience especially enjoyed his “Four Lullabies for the Girls”. These are dedicated to his children and are four gorgeous miniatures, portraying the character of each daughter. Caskie provided sensitive accompaniment.
The first half concluded with the combined choirs, again accompanied on the organ by Andrew Caskie, singing “The Spirit of the Lord” from Elgar’s “Apostles”. A wonderful and fitting piece with which to end this half.
The second part was performed by Trianon, directed by Prof. Christopher Green and included a variety of Spirituals, Anthems and Religious songs, all of which were sung with enthusiasm and gusto! Instrumental items, featuring members of the group, included music by Vivaldi, Elgar and Joplin. The accompanists were Charmaine Cooper and Stephen Hogger. The evening ended with the combined choirs singing Rutter’s “Down by the Riverside”.