This program of songs for soloists, choir and small orchestra was very well put together to display the musical talents of all. The first half of the program was a collection of old and modern works on themes related to flowers and love, interspersed with selections from Dowland’s LACHRIMAE, which were selected for their relevance to the following piece. The LACHRIMAE selections gave the orchestra a chance to showcase their skills, which they did.
The ‘flower’ songs started with NOW SLEEPS THE CRIMSON PETAL by Paul Mealor, new to me but a very interesting piece with some very low notes that were a real challenge to both the choir and the audience as well as some exciting dissonances. The final movement, the hymnal A SPOTLESS ROSE, with its lovely colour and texture, was my favourite.
This piece was followed by Ross Edwards’ FLOWER SONGS. I am a great admirer of Ross Edwards’ use of percussion and this was no exception. I especially liked the way that the voices and percussion, including vibraphone and clapsticks, worked together to create such interesting sound effects.
The next work was Benjamin Britten’s FIVE FLOWER SONGSand demonstrated the beautiful writing of English language songs for which he is renowned. My enjoyment of this piece was enhanced by the obvious love of it which the choir displayed. You could tell that they just loved singing this one!
The second half of the concert was given over to Purcell’s DIDO and AENEAS with Fiona Campbell (mezzo) and Alexander Knight (baritone) in the title roles. They were supported by Tobias Cole (countertenor), Anna Fraser (soprano), Penelope Mills (soprano) and Richard Butler (tenor). The soloist line-up was excellent and they all delivered, especially the two principals. I had the pleasure of hearing Alexander Knight in SEVEN LAST WORDS a few weeks ago and really enjoyed another chance to hear him. His voice is really beautiful and he should have a wonderful career, as he has good stage presence as well, but may need a suit that fits if he is not to look discordantly young for some roles.
Fiona Campbell was superb as DIDO. Her rendition of Remember Me was heart wrenching and displayed her beautiful, rich mezzo voice and technical skills. I will certainly be downloading some recordings of hers. The other singers were wonderful too and special mention must be made of Anna Fraser and Richard Butler who not only sang nicely, but articulated clearly – a must for me as I expect to be able to follow the text by listening to the singers.
REMEMBER ME played the Concert Hall, the Concourse, Chatswood on Friday 26th April, the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith on Saturday 27th April and the City Recital Hall, Angel Place on Sunday 28th April, 2013.