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Jesu Meine Freude by J.S.Bach and The Crucifixion by John Stainer - Sunday April 10th

Review by Sue Shepherd

I found this a highly enjoyable performance or two classics of vocal music.
Diatonic is a well knit and directed vocal ensemble of some seventeen voices who were performing music they loved and knew well.

The difficulties of the Bach Motet sounded mostly fluent and well-balanced and the chorale melody shone especially in the soprano line.

The Crucifixion introduced the two soloists: Matthew Sandy, tenor, gave a sensitive and well-shaped account of the different events in the story of Jesus’ trial and Crucifixion, reaching great heights in Father Forgive Them. David Borsada’s well-rounded bass was shown to great effect in the words of Christ. Both displayed their experience and vocal colour.

The chorus excelled in God so Loved the World, showing their neat ensemble and listening powers. They gave their all to the flowing melodic lines and were joined exuberantly by the congregation in the hymns!

An extremely important member of the ensemble was Edward Jenkins whose crucial organ accompaniment was handled with dexterity at all times. We all loved the prelude to introduce the Procession to Calvery and the sensitive playing as an equal partner with the soloists.

I thought it sad that so few people were there to hear the performance and hope that next time more will come to enjoy this experience.


Standing Ovations in Normandy!

Review by Donald Hollins

Diatonic and The Oriana Singers undertook a short tour in Normandy. As on previous tours both Musical Directors Bernard Sutton and David Moss shared the conducting.

We arrived in the coach at Portsmouth in a cloud-burst and scurried to our tiny cabins to fight over who was to sleep in the top bunk. Soft music awoke us at 5.30am and, bleary eyed, we journeyed to find breakfast in Caen prior to a fascinating visit to view the famous Tapestry in Bayeux. Then it was on to our modest but central hotel base in Rouen.

The following morning, quite refreshed, we visited Monet's famous garden at Giveny, which was awash with tulips, late-flowering daffodils, primroses and budding peonies. The famous arched bridge was the scene of endless photographs. The first concert of the tour ws held in St NIcholas's Church in the small town of Beaumont-le-Roger, which is twinned with Wotton-under Edge, home of several of Oriana's members. We all received a right royal welcome and a good meal before the amalgamated choirs earned a standing ovation at the end of the concert which had included works by Byrd, Tallis, Parry, Vaugham Williams and Durufle.

Next morning it was off to the coastal resort of Fecamp where we toured the ornately decorated Benedictine Distillery and lubricated our throats with small complementary glasses of this fiery liquor. Another concert was held in the evening at the church of St Etienne in Fecamp where, at the conclusion, another standing ovation was received. The programme included works by Poulenc and Durufle, and like the previous concert, ended on a lighter note with pieces such as 'Over Hill, Over Dale', 'Greensleeves', and 'Full Fathom Five'.

The penultimate day enabled the party to relax and enjoy a walking tour of Rouen, which took us into narrow medieval streets and passageways with overhanging first floors to the timber-framed houses.

Sunday, the final day, was surely the highlight of the tour with the choirs participating in Mass in the Cathedral. Palestrina's hauntingly beautiful 'Missa Aeterna Christi Munera' was sung reverently and movingly. Later in the day it was time to board our coach, take the ferry back to Portsmouth and then speed through the night into the small hours before reaching home.

The healthy condition of the English choral tradition had been firmly demonstrated in one of France's great cathedrals and two of its fine churches.

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