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Review: Christmas Fantasia, Birmingham Bach Choir at St Philip's Cathedral

 

Birmingham Bach Choir

We say it every year: “Christmas comes earlier”, but in a big city, beautiful venues such as St Philip’s Georgian baroque cathedral, is in great demand.

Therefore who better than Birmingham’s own Bach Choir to charm us with a fascinating collection of seasonal offerings in this wonderful building?

Eleven varied works were conducted by Paul Spicer, some more successful than others.

Difficult to always understand the flowing narrative throughout Britten’s Christ’s

Nativity, but good to note that soloists from within the choir are being encouraged.

However, pitch slipped a little and more evocative ‘joy’ would have been welcome. Rutter’s hauntingly beautiful Dormi Jesu was sung with tender love, however.

Organist Alex Mason filled the cathedral with mighty sound in two solo slots.

Finzi’s Magnificat including choir soloists, was sung with true commitment throughout. Words were more accessible and one suspected that extra rehearsal care had been taken.

Howell’s Sing Lullaby was disappointingly unsettled with uncomfortable key changes, but fortuitously a lovely pianissimo ending. As ever the choir suffered from too few basses, or were they too near the back?

Vaughan-Williams Christmas Carol Fantasia created a suitable stage for student baritone William Gee, bringing to light some familiar carols, much to the delight of the listeners.

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