Carillon Choir sing the glory of England

PUBLISHED: 10:42 25 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:11 06 May 2010

ALL the glory of English choral music shone brightly at St Peter s Church in St Albans on Saturday when the Carillon Chamber Choir presented a programme entitled Love s Delight. And delightful it was with a generally well-designed programme of music broug

ALL the glory of English choral music shone brightly at St Peter's Church in St Albans on Saturday when the Carillon Chamber Choir presented a programme entitled Love's Delight.

And delightful it was with a generally well-designed programme of music brought together under the excellent direction of conductor Deborah Miles-Johnson who took the unusual step of opening the concert with a soprano solo.

Carole Crook sang the delightful anonymous madrigal The Willow Song at the beginning of a sequence of madrigals, each one using more members of the choir until all were involved.

The programme then jumped to the early part of the 20th century when great efforts were being made to save as many of England's traditional songs as possible.

One of the leaders of the movement was Ralph Vaughan Williams and his three songs chosen by Carillon, The Dark-Eyed Sailor, The Spring Time of the Year and The Lover's Ghost are amongst the most attractive pieces of his choral music.

The Australian-born pianist and composer Percy Grainger also made a great contribution to the rescue of English folk songs and Carillon marked this with his arrangements of I'm Seventeen Come Sunday, Brigg Fair and The Lost Lady Found.

While the first and third songs have very lively dance-like tunes, Brigg Fair is a fine tenor solo which was exquisitely performed by Andrew Shepstone.

Also included in the first half was a fine performance of Dvorak's Slavonic Dance No 1 played in its original piano duet form by Linden Innes-Hopkins and Matthew Woodward who also accompanied many of the choral pieces.

The second half of the evening continued the English theme with Edward Elgar's fine part songs, There is Sweet Music and My Love Dwelt in a Northern Land and Gustav Holst's I Love my Love, all of which were well sung.

But the final section of the concert was, for me, a little disappointing because, I have to admit, I have no great love for Brahms' Liebeslieder Walzer. I know they were well sung by Carillon and that they are popular with singers but I simply do not find them attractive, particularly as the conclusion of such an otherwise excellent and entertaining evening.

JOHN MANNING


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