England's Golden Ages
Hosanna to the Son of David - Gibbons
Come Ye Sons of Art, Away - Purcell
Total Eclipse (from Samson) - Handel
Requiem - Howells
Mass in G Minor - Vaughan Williams
Toward the Unknown Region - Vaughan Williams
Review by Lawrence Tomlinson:
England’s Golden Ages was the title of Penrith Singers’ Spring Concert held in St. Andrew’s Church. The first “Golden Age” was represented by two pieces. First, Gibbons’ Hosanna to the Son of David, a setting for unaccompanied six-part choir, sung with a bright, lively, clear sound. A brilliant start!
Second came Purcell’s Ode come, ye sons of Art, away. So our organist, Ian Hare, was introduced to us through his most assured playing prior to the opening chorus. Another bright and joyous piece in which all soloists took part. Rachel Little (soprano) and Lucinda Stuart-Grant (mezzo-soprano) sang nicely together in “Sound the trumpet” and both the tenor, Richard Pollock, and bass, Benjamin Weaver, sang with great conviction.
Richard Pollock’s solo of the blinded Samson (“Total Eclipse” from Handel’s Samson) was followed by a piece by Benjamin Britten, bringing us forward some two centuries to the second “Golden Age” of English music, with a setting of words by Thomas Hardy, “The Choirmaster’s Burial”. Sensitively sung, both songs were accompanied by Rachel Carruthers on the piano, whose accompaniment was a delight to listen to.
Herbert Howells’ Requiem, for unaccompanied double choir and soloists followed; a challenging piece, and described as “a work of rapt, hushed intensity”. So this performance proved to be.
A feast of music by Vaughan Williams followed. A highlight of his Mass in G minor was the lovely soprano line in the Sanctus, moving into the more contrapuntal Hosanna, and the final climax dying away to a quiet close on “Grant us thy peace”.
Three songs by Vaughan Williams and Howells were beautifully sung by Rachel Little and the concert closed with Toward the Unknown Region. After a quiet, mysterious opening, the choir “Burst Forth” into a glorious ending. The choir and all who took part certainly excelled.