Kidderminster Town Hall gave London’s Royal Albert Hall a good run for its money on Saturday, when Kidderminster Choral Society presented “Crown Imperial”, its own celebration of the Diamond Jubilee.
The jamboree spirit was everywhere, with choristers sporting Union Flag colours on their apparel, and flags handed out to an excited audience for this lengthy, generous programme of “400 years of royal music” -- except it wasn’t what it said on the tin. The earliest offering came from a little under three centuries ago, and the two most substantial works had no ceremonial connections at all.
But that’s nit-picking. The quality of performance (apart from a little fluffy diction in Stanford’s workaday ‘Te Deum’) was well up to the impeccable standards Geoffrey Weaver has instilled into his singers (the Wyre Forest Young Voices Chorale also did an excellent job), and yet again the expert players of the remarkable Elgar Sinfonia achieved miracles after minimal rehearsal.
There were several orchestral bits and pieces, crisply delivered, amidst the choral works, and amongst the latter the most substantial by far was the decidedly unregal ‘Music Makers’, Elgar’s masterpiece of solitary retrospection. Choral tone was warmly balanced, linear detail rising to the surface and then receding into the general texture, orchestral playing was urgent and well-cushioned, and mezzo-soprano Yvonne Howard reached out into the entire hall with her thoughtful, intelligent sensitivity to these texts in Elgar’s almost sorrowful settings.
Howard also did her best for the rubbishy words of two of Elgar’s ‘Sea Pictures’, her tones radiant and burnished, but music which sat oddly in advance of the nationalistic beanfeast shortly to follow.