|Credit: Keith Saunders|
|Credit: Marco Borggreve|
Next this week, the English Chamber Choir (Friday 11 May), conducted by Guy Protheroe, performing the Te Deum by António Teixeira (1707 - after 1759). They preceded this with a world premiere performance of Sub tuum praesidium by Ivan Moody (b.1964). This relatively short, unaccompanied work began a little shakily in the large acoustic of St Bartholomew's Church in Brighton, but once the singers settled slightly, it came across effectively enough, the falling clusters of sound taking advantage of the warm acoustic. I felt the piece needed more strength at the top from the sopranos, and it seemed slightly under-rehearsed, given the obvious challenges. An interesting piece, nevertheless, and well suited to the acoustic. Then came the Teixeira. This is a long piece, using five separate choirs, and calling on eight soloists. In fact, here the English Chamber Choir used four soloists (Julia Doyle, Siân Menna, Simon Wall and Philip Tebb, and then shared out the solo parts throughout the choir, so by the end of the piece, I think nearly every singer had had at least one solo bit. Sadly, their performance was scuppered from the outset by a fundamental problem in staging. I am surprised nobody from the festival or the church pointed out the flaw in raising the orchestra (which was relatively large for the size of choir) on staging. This meant that throughout, the choir struggled to be heard, particularly when singing in smaller groups. Even the soloists (other than the tenor, who was quite tall) struggled, as they were placed behind the orchestra too. Also, the five 'choirs' were all placed close together, behind the orchestra, so the antiphonal effects between the choirs were also rather lost. As it is quite a long work, this variety of effects is vital in maintaining interest. A real shame, as there were clearly some good voices here, and the choir knew the work well. Another one to hear again under different circumstances, I think.
So overall, a week of performances that could have been so much more, for one reason or another.