Dartington Community Choir
Great Hall, Dartington
May 6, 2018
Dartington Community Choir’s previous concert featured Mendelssohn’s bread-and-butter stalwart of the repertoire, Elijah. Like many similar works, it’s long enough to sustain a whole evening’s music-making, without the need for any partner-work, vocal or otherwise.
For its next concert in December the choir will combine two shorter works, one from the Classical Period, and the other from the Baroque, which should form ideal bedfellows in terms of musical content, use of available resources, and in providing a viable programme-length.
But Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana is a different kettle of fish altogether. To find a suitable companion piece for a work first performed in Frankfurt in 1937, and given the all-clear by Goebbels and the Nazis as an alternative to what that they perceived as decadent avant-garde music, needed very careful consideration.
However, with his usual programming ingenuity, conductor Simon Capet came up with the perfect solution on the night. Carmina Burana took over the whole second half, while the first half featured Percussion Ensemble Quartet 19, who were there for the Orff in any case. They quickly won the entire audience over, not only with the technical assurance of their performance, but by their engaging personality and youthfulness, which really got the audience going by the interval.
More than one person was heard to say that, ordinarily they would have steered clear of anything with the word ‘percussion’ in it, and had only come along to hear the choir. But after enjoying Quartet 19’s contribution so much, they came away with a completely different take on the word.
The choir, as ever, gave of their absolute all in Carmina Burana, with first-class support from soloists Milly Forrest (soprano), Robert Jenkins (tenor), Julian Chou-Lambert (baritone), Clare Talbot and Kristian Lindberg (two pianos), Quartet 19, and Harriet Riley (timpani).
Of course, without Simon Capet’s drive, enthusiasm, and sheer musicality, things would have been a lot different on the night. Even convincing his hundred-or-so songsters to open their programme with a piece of Gebrauchsmusik like Toch’s Geographical Fugue for Speaking Chorus was quite an achievement, but which, in the end, provide the perfect aperitif – or should we say Vorspeise – for Orff’s ‘scenic cantata’, which followed later.
The only problem now with Dartington Community Choir concerts is that each one seems to be even more unforgettable than the last – and I’m going to need to fit a larger memory-card before long, simply to accommodate all these in my memory.
You can read my full review of the event here at Seen and Heard International.
Philip R Buttall
(top image: Dartington Community Choir with Simon Capet inset)
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