New Bristol Sinfonia - Reviews
May be not all Victorian, but certainly treasures. Published in the Bristol Evening Post, 28th March 2011
Bristol Choral Society, New Bristol Sinfonia, Victorian Treasures: Colston Hall.
AS conductor Adrian Partington informed us at the start of proceedings, technically they had broken the Trades Description Act in calling this concert Victorian Treasures, because at least one of the composers and a couple of the pieces of music were not strictly speaking Victorian.
One of those, Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No 4, second only in popularity to Land of Hope and Glory, was written in 1907, and showed off the orchestra to best effect. They played this in a far less inhibited manner than the same composer's Froissart Overture.
Their two major tasks of accompaniment came with Stanford's Revenge: A Ballad of the Fleet, and Parry's Blest Pair of Sirens, both truly Victorian in spirit and sound.
The first, inspired by Tennyson's flamboyant poem relating to Sir Richard Grenville's heroic attempt to withstand, overwhelming Spanish odds and tragic death on board The Revenge, was by far the more satisfying. Singing with clear diction, the choir became completely involved in this tragic tale, and drew the audience into the story with them.
Sung with equal fluency, Blest Pair of Sirens, which is a setting of Milton's ode At a solemn music, may have been influential in furthering the composer's career, but compared to the Sandford work sounded rather overblown, a little too full of its own self-importance.
Parry's My Soul, there is a Country, sung with care and understanding, helped to redress the balance in favour of this composer. In a confident mood, the choir was in particularly good form with the unaccompanied, emotional Lay a Garland by Bristol-born composer Robert Lucas, Sir Arthur Sullivan's The Long Day Closes, and Joseph Barnby's lovely setting of Tennyson's Sweet and Low, full of Victorian melancholia.
After the rousing stains of the Pomp and Circumstance March from the orchestra, the choir took up the flag waving to end the evening with Parry's setting of William Blake's Jerusalem, but they had to be in robust form to hold their own with an audience who readily took up Adrian Partington's invitation to join in and sing with the choir.
Concert was held on Saturday 26th March 2011 - archived information can be viewed here.
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