Archive for Cardiff Polyphonic Choir

The Lamentations of Jeremiah

Posted in Music with tags , , , on March 24, 2018 by telescoper

This evening I’m going to this concert, which I’ve been looking forward to for some time.

It may be sombre and melancholy, but the setting of The Lamentations of Jeremiah by Thomas Tallis is also astonishingly beautiful and it’s been one of my favourite choral works for many years. In fact it’s one of the most frequently played recordings on my iPod because I turn to it when I need to listen something peaceful and reflective. I have never heard it performed live, however, so this will be a treat for me. To give you a taster, here is the work (performed by The Sixteen):

P.S. The Hebrew text of the Book of Lamentations is remarkable for being in the form of an acrostic, with each verse starting with consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Tallis sets verses from the Latin (Vulgate) translation, but includes the initial letters of the Hebrew version: Aleph, Beth, etc..

UPDATE: I went to the concert as planned. Very enjoyable it was, though I was a bit surprised to find the two parts of The Lamentations of Jeremiah were not performed one after the other but either side of two motets by Lukaszewski. I guess this is to emphasise that they are separate pieces rather than one 20-minute long work but I always listen to them together.

The concert had an interval of about 25 minutes but, lamentably, no drinks were on sale…

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Messiah

Posted in Biographical, Cardiff, Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 10, 2017 by telescoper

A performance of Handel‘s Messiah  at St David’s Hall  is always a pretty sure sign that the Christmas season is upon us, although the work itself was actually first performed at Easter and it’s by no means clear why it ended up almost universally regarded as a Christmas work . Messiah actually spans the entire biblical story of the Messiah, from Old Testament prophecy to the Nativity (Part 1) , the Passion of Christ (Part II, culminating in the Hallelujah Chorus, and the Resurrection of the Dead (Part III). The Nativity only features (briefly) in Part I, which is why it’s a little curious that Messiah is so strongly associated with Christmas.

Whatever the reason I don’t mind admitting that Messiah is a piece that’s redolent with nostalgia for me – some of the texts remind me a lot of Sunday School and singing in a church choir when I was little and then, a bit later, listening to the whole thing at Christmas time at the City Hall in Newcastle. I loved it then, and still do now, over 40 years later. I know it’s possible to take nostalgia too far – nobody can afford to spend too much time living in the past – but I think it’s good to stay in contact with your memories and the things that shaped you when you were young. I went to a performance of Messiah (in the same venue) about this time last year but I relished the chance to hear it again last night.

As it turned out, the pairing of Cardiff Polyphonic Choir with baroque orchestra Réjouissance produced a very different performance from last year. The choir, numbering about sixty members, was in fine voice and the much smaller orchestra meant that the chorus really dominated the show.

Generally speaking I’m not a fan of period instrument performances. I can see the virtue of having a lighter instrumental touch in this case, and don’t have a problem with using forces of similar scale to those Handel would have used (e.g. two oboes, two cellos, one double bass, etc). I do not however understand why musicians insist on using outdated instruments. This is particularly true for the trumpets. Nobody will ever convince me that a baroque trumpet isn’t an inferior version of the modern instrument. All credit to the players for doing the best they could, but I really don’t see the point.

Anyway, that rant aside, I very much enjoyed the performance, especially the lovely singing by all four soloists and the choir, who were outstanding.
Now, I wonder where I’ll hear Messiah  next year?