Songs of Heaven and Earth
St Andrew's Church, Penrith
18 September 2004
The Wordsworth Singer's audience, at St Andrew's, Penrith on Saturday, enjoyed a rare treat.
Interesting harmonies, occasional dramatic dissonance and very singable lines of melody sung by a first-class choir all combined to produce some moments of exquisite beauty.
The first piece was Kenneth Leighton's Sequence for All Saints, at times dramatic, at others contemplative. The bass solos in the second and fourth movements were sensitively sung by Jim Johnson.
Next came two unaccompanied pieces by Scotland's premier composer of his generation, James MacMillan. In The Gallant Weaver, a setting of Robert Burns, the sopranos excelled themselves, and the contemplative alto solo was beautifully sung by Hilary Hodgson.
Christus Vincit, to a short Latin text, starts quietly and builds up to an impressive climax sung by the soprano Emma Harper.
After the interval we heard Dvorák's Songs of Nature, performed with the appropriate delicacy.
Finally Kodály's Missa Brevis. In the Kyrie and Agnus Dei the sopranos split into three solo parts and go very high, soaring above the rest of the choir – a most moving moment.