“The perfect cure for the wintertime blues” – our last concert

The concert on Saturday the 4th December was reviewed by Keith Nixon and he has kindly agreed for us to publish it here.

“Thank goodness for the Bishopwearmouth Choral Society! For two glorious hours on Saturday the winter-weary audience was treated to such outstanding music-making that all thoughts of ice and snow were banished. And what an ambitious programme – two works written in response to personal losses, a Brahms rarity and one of the great choral masterpieces by Dvo?ák.

Nänie is a lovely piece written in memory of Brahms’ friend, Anselm Feuerbach. This is Brahms at his most contemplative and introspective. Apart from the German Requiem, Brahms’ choral-orchestral works are not well known; considering the beauty of the BCS’s performance of Nänie, this is a great shame.

The composing of his Stabat Mater was Dvo?ák’s reaction to the death of three of his children in rapid and tragic succession. The first four sections are dark, displaying the composer’s sense of emptiness. There is a transformation to the light with the fifth movement, which continues to the work’s conclusion. It is as if Dvo?ák were praying through this music, and he does achieve inner peace by the end.

The high standard of the choir continues to attract excellent soloists and the four performers (Katherine Moore, Sara-Louisa Parry, Christopher Turner and the remarkable Njabulo Madlala) all displayed the sensitivity of the text with controlled passion. The orchestra, too, played with great feeling. But it was the choir which really delighted the audience. Conductor David Murray must be thrilled with a group of singers that, in a challenging work, was able to convey tenderness as well as the pain that the composer clearly felt as he was writing the piece. The warm applause that followed the final movement was richly deserved.

The Bishopwearmouth Choral Society continues to go from strength to strength and proved to be the perfect cure for the wintertime blues.”

Keith Nixon