Culture: Review: Tribute Worth Waiting for; Birmingham Bach Choir St Paul's Church Ex Cathedra & Thomas Trotter Symphony Hall
Byline: Clare Mackney
Almost a year late, the Birmingham Bach Choir's centenary tribute to Gerald Finzi (born in July 1901) was also compact, comprising just two of his shorter choral works.
There was absolutely nothing desultory about performances however, with a muscular introduction from Robert Sharpe on organ launching a Magnificat distinguished by an unforced, light-filled chorus sound.
The BBC's uncontrived delivery belied the depth and delicacy of tonal vocabulary at its command and the meticulous attention paid to the musical detail (if not the diction) of Finzi's word setting.
Lo, the Full, Final Sacrifice was yet more uplifting, the organ again priming the choir with unerring efficacy, the fully centred and supported quality of the singing perfectly realizing the anthem's lyricism and energy. Sopranos' contribution to the Amen was especially pure and silkily beautiful.
Such clear-sighted readings are almost to be expected under the eloquent, efficient direction of Finzi champion, Paul Spicer, but the same respect, and musicianly versatility, was extended to John Joubert, whose 75th birthday was also celebrated in this 'Milestones' concert.
The composer was present to witness the questioning and unease of his gritty Donne setting, A Hymne to God the Father, vividly expressed. Its controlled chorus power later blossomed to close the evening with the insistent, colourful tumult of Blest Glorious Man, organ triumphant.
Contrasting facets of intensity and vigour had been explored in Leighton's Crucifixus Pro Nobis (at its most moving in the austere interplay between organ and Nathan Vale's sensitively dramatic solo tenor lines), and Vaughan Williams' Mass in G Minor. …