Concert Review: Birds and Beasts, Saturday 1 July 2017

Chamber choir delights its audience

There was disappointment and delight for St Albans Chamber Choir and its audience at its concert on Saturday, July 1.

The disappointment came because so many members had been struck by a summer bug that a performance of Francis Poulenc’s delightful Quatre Petites Prierès had to be dropped from the programme.

And the delight was provided by Isabel Kernthaler who demonstrated her fine ability as a saxophonist by providing the soprano sax accompaniment in Karl Jenkins’ A Parliament of Owls. The Jenkins work was originally written to include a saxophone and the addition of the instrument to last Saturday’s performance at St Saviour’s Church in St Albans added an amazing lift to the overall sound. Isabel’s performance was a real treat.

The concert had opened with German composer Carl Orff ’s Laudes creaturarum, which was then followed by four well sung pieces from his far better known Carmina Burana.

Then followed William Walton’s complex and beautiful Cantico del sole, which largely uses the same works as the first Orff piece. The Cantico is very demanding on the choir but the members under musical director John Gibbons gave a very fine performance.

Works by 16th century French composer Clément Janequin and Monteverdi followed before the first half ended with Jonathan Dove’s extremely complex but amusing and delightful setting of the nursery rhyme Who Killed Cock Robin?

More modern music opened the second half with Eric Whitacre’s beautiful setting of Rudyard Kipling’s The Seal Lullaby. Another movement from Carmina Burana, Olim lacus colueram, followed together with works by Adriano Banchieri and Orlando Gibbons before the fine performance of A Parliament of Owls.

The choir was accompanied on the piano by Nick Robinson, director of music at St Peter’s Church, St Albans. Nick also played four movements from Camille Saint-Saën’s Carnival of the Animals, a welcome chance to hear his excellent performing abilities.

Despite the difficulties caused by illness, the Chamber Choir members once more achieved a very good and entertaining evening of music.


John Manning

Herts Advertiser