4th May 2013

Review:  Cirencester Choral Society,
Cirencester Parish Church
By Roger Jones



CIRENCESTER Choral Society celebrates its 150 birthday this year, and the celebrations got off to an auspicious start with a concert devoted to Gloucester composer Sir Hubert Parry.

Following the impressive Coronation Anthem I was Glad, which is very well known, the strings of Corinium Camerata gave an excellent and polished performance of Lady Radnor’s Suite, which isn’t.  This is a dance suite in the Baroque style full of splendid melodies including a gentle allemande, an expressive slow minuet and a jolly gigue to round things off.

Then came the anthem Hear my Words, ye People premiered in 1894 by a choir of over 2,000. Although Cirencester Choral’s strength is far more modest, its singers created a sense of lofty divine grandeur aided by some expressive singing by two soloists and a capella quartet.

The final work, Invocation to Music, is a setting of Robert Bridges’ ode in honour of Purcell which implores the Muse of Music to return to England after a long absence. This Muse could hardly fail to be stirred by the warmth and sincerity of the welcome expressed in the opening chorus, though the diction needed to be clearer.

Later the turbulence of the sea was evoked to stunning effect by choir and orchestra. The young soprano Jenavieve Moore impressed with the sensitivity of her singing and ability to project her voice without strain. Her duet Love to Love Calleth with tenor Adam Smith was especially striking. Baritone Ian Caddy, a last minute substitute, offered a convincing and eloquent reminder of the power of music to console.

Rather than stick to more familiar pieces conductor Carleton Etherington took us on a journey of discovery, giving some neglected, yet magnificent, music by an eminent son of Gloucestershire the kind of performance it really deserves.