Review - 06 December 2014

The best of English with a Christmas flavour

Members of Bridgwater Choral Society, with their conductor Iain Cooper, presented a delightfully varied programme of music by English composers, with a distinctly Christmas flavour, and lots of sparkle.

The evening, at St Mary's Church in Bridgwater, began with Elgar's 'Scenes from the Bavarian Highlands'. Throughout this work the choir sang very expressively, particularly in the quiet singing in 'False Love', communicating the bitter sweet sadness of this song.

The ladies sang their entries with soft, mellow tone, and lilting legato phrases in 'Lullaby', against the dance-like piano accompaniment, skilfully executed by John Bodiley on the piano.

In the last of these songs the tenors and basses came into their own in this more challenging piece.

Following this, Mary Morgan sang two delicate songs by Edmund Rubbra, accompanied by Sally Jenkins on pedal harp. Mary's beautiful languid tone, supported well by Sally's precise, articulate playing, with both performers giving pleasing dynamic variety.

The Choir continued with a very well-known Christmas choral work, Benjamin Britten's 'Ceremony of Carols' originally written for treble voices and harp. The work was very well performed, and the balance of the vocal parts really good.

Iain Cooper must be commended for this, as it was evident throughout the whole evening that the blend and balance of the voices has improved considerably over the last few years.

'Wolcum' was very exciting and the harp accompaniment was both delicate and strong by turns.

There was some superb quiet singing at the end of 'There is no Rose', and 'Transeamus' had just the right amount if 's' on the final note.

Mary Morgan took the solos and showed her versatility in producing a rich, full sound on 'That Yonge Childe' and clear high ringing tone on 'Balulalow'.

''This little babe' was exciting and well controlled, tricky with this canon at the first, like a relay race, where each part almost steps on the heels of the others. 'Deo Gratia' was very well executed, with excellent diction and a beautiful fan-like ending resembling a peacock spreading its tail.

The final piece of the evening was John Rutter's 'Feel the Spirit', another great contrast.

Iain Cooper ably rehearsed the audience ready for 'When the Saints' and then everyone sang together two well-known carols.

John Bodiley showed his adaptability in switching styles, and Gaye Boggon stepped up to sing the Contralto solos with a warm vibrato and strong sound.

The Choir really loosened up in this contemporary piece of Spiritual in true Rutter style. The syncopation was handled well, and there was some lovely sensitive singing, particularly in 'Motherless Child'.

I enjoyed the performance immensely - it was really well received and a great success.

Elaine Thorneycroft-Gibb