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Earth's Imagined Corners

St Michael's Church, Stanwix
31 January 2009

'I was glad when they said unto me...'  Let us go unto a concert given by the Wordsworth Singers on Saturday 31st January at St Michael's Church, Stanwix and heard, amongst other things beautifully performed by the choir under the sure and understanding direction of Edward Caswell, two beautifully crafted anthems by Parry from the virtually unknown hinterland of works by that sadly undervalued composer, works entirely free from the saccharine sentimentality of much sacred music of his period.

The slow, reverent interpretation of Palestrina's exquisite Stabat Mater suggested in Wagner's arrangement was impressive but gave this performance an uncharacteristic heaviness not found in swifter continental readings which point the triple rhythm of the text bringing out the bumpy cross-rhythms and elegance of the music's phrases. Perhaps one's receptivity depends upon how one likes to be harrowed!

Lassus's Domine Exaudi was superbly sung and one was swept along totally absorbed in the music's gorgeous colour and masterly construction.  Phrasing of the inside parts was excellent and well up to the usual standard of this very able choir, as was the handling of MacMillan's two atmospheric and demanding motets which rely so heavily on accuracy and effect.

Emma Ferrand’s performance of Bach's music for solo cello was gloriously warm, sensitive and totally captivating.

Brian Sammons