The Cappella Singers were joined on this occasion by pianist
Timothy Barratt for an unusual programme of music for Christmas.
What was particularly unusual this time (and Cappella concerts
usually are unusual!) was that Conductor Philip Colls had chosen
all the music for its arboricultural and horticultural
Thus there were three settings of "There is no rose":
the tenors and basses began the concert at the altar with a well
known anonymous setting from the 15th century; and the sopranos
and altos sang Britten's setting from A Ceremony of Carols.
The third setting, later in the concert, was the beautiful
setting by John Joubert. Other rose
references were to be heard in Praetorius's Est ist ein Rös;
and the setting by Howells of A Spotless Rose, in which
the choir's singing was suitably mellifluous, with astonishingly
fine tuning, and in which the baritone solo was sung equally
mellifluously by Paul Prouse.
Timothy Barratt played with
typical sensitivity and technical control three pairs of pieces
from Weihnachtsbaum by Franz Liszt, the bicentary of whose birth was widely
celebrated in 2011.
Other pieces in this collection worthy of
Gardeners' Question Time included the evergreen O Tannenbaum;
Cornelius's Christbaum; Deck the Hall and two versions of
Holly and the Ivy, Walford Davies's popular and extraordinarily
effective arrangement of the traditional tune and, to finish,
the lively and original setting by John Gardner, whose death at
the age of 94 had been announced only a few days earlier. For
this song The Cappella Singers wandered among the surprised and
delighted audience. A member of the choir commented on the
sudden change of atmosphere as the choir and audience alike
became "irrationally exuberant".
Everyone enjoyed it, for it was
encored - twice.
Cappella Singers: Registered Charity no 262530