With the title Noyses, Sounds & Sweet Aires, it wouldn’t be too difficult to guess this lovely afternoon concert was the choir’s own celebration of Shakespeare’s 400th Anniversary.
But instead of the endless succession of choruses from operas like Macbeth or Falstaff, or suites of incidental music, conductor Simon Capet had assembled a fascinating mix of songs and readings that had far more in common with the poet himself, the actual music in his plays, and the popular culture at the time.
The choir’s highly-spirited performance of Orlando Gibbons’ Cries of London got everything off to an animated start, and which contrasted well with their other renditions, distinguished by an especially fine version of Vaughan Williams’ Full fathom five.
Soloist Catherine Hamilton soared effortlessly in a mixed selection of songs by Arne, Quilter, and Cheltenham-based Ian Higginson, whose Fear no more the heat o’ the sun scarcely left a dry eye in the house.
Choir pianist Clare Talbot, aided and abetted by the consummate skills of Divertimento String Quartet, provided the highly-appropriate accompaniment throughout, while no two better actor/readers could have been found to keep things moving along so briskly than Richard Clark and Ruth Bettesworth.
But if the ultimate accolade for the programme’s unmitigated success must go to the Bard himself, then Simon Capet’s untiring musical contribution puts him in close contention for second place.
PHILIP R BUTTALL
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