Fringe Box



Review: GIMF – Vivace Chorus at Guildford’s G Live

Published on: 12 Mar, 2013
Updated on: 12 Mar, 2013
Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber

Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber

Touches of sweet harmony

Concert by Vivace Chorus at G Live – Saturday March 9th

by Gillian Ramsden

I was really looking forward to the choral arrangement Vaughan Williams’  ‘Serenade to Music’ for 16 solo voices but with some trepidation. I am of a generation brought up on the original version (the finest of the day) so it had something to live up.  I need not have worried. 

The Vivace Chorus brought to the opening a captivating sweetness of sound,  and as the harmonies faded the sopranos gave us the most limpid top A in the phrase “of sweet harmony”. The weight of the orchestra covered the words in many places and this was a problem later in the programme too,  however  the choral colour and beautiful legato could not be faulted.

This performance of Elgar’s Cello Concerto, with soloist Julian Lloyd Webber, was full of interest. The orchestra was sensitive to Lloyd Webber’s solo passages, moving as one, as if in conversation, giving the feeling of an intimate almost  ‘chamber’ performance.

…the cello moulded the phrases with a haunting beauty…

The many exquisite cello pianissimi drew the listener in, and contrasted with some wonderfully burnished brass forte sections. In the slow movement the cello moulded the phrases with a haunting beauty, but this is music meant to sear the soul and make the heart cry out with the pain of it but for me that did not happen on this occasion. But the final note of the adagio was quite breathtaking.

The unaccompanied part song, ‘There is sweet music’ had some beautifully shaped phrases and no orchestra to mask the words: the poetry was able to sing as sweetly to us as the voices.

The programme concluded with Elgar’s  ‘The Music Makers’  for chorus, orchestra and mezzo-soprano. In this rich tapestry of sound and colour the Vivace Chorus wove the threads with utmost sensitivity. At last we heard them  in full flow, with some thrilling forte passages, illuminating the text – “and therefore today is thrilling”.

Jeanette Ager replaced the indisposed Natalia Brzezinska  at the last moment.  Hers was a voice with a rich lower register as well as strong and vibrant colour on her top notes.  Sadly, the fullness of Elgar’s orchestration and choral writing was often allowed to obscure the solo voice.

Conductor Jeremy Backhouse and the Brandenburg Sinfonia with the Vivace Chorus gave the capacity G Live audience a dynamic performance.

The final phrase ‘We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams’ was perhaps the highlight of the evening, spinning out endlessly into a breathless hush. It was hard to break it with the deserved applause… and we left the concert hall  – forgive a further quote from the final item –‘our souls with high music ringing.’

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