Thursday, 15 November 2018

Review: Reading Phoenix Choir

IT is many years since I heard Reading Phoenix choir and I thought they were good back then.

IT is many years since I heard Reading Phoenix choir and I thought they were good back then. Perhaps it was the timbre of Douai Abbey that lifted their sound, or the way the choreography used different parts of the building — or perhaps just the excellence of the singing. Whatever it was, I enjoyed this concert immensely.

Rachmaninoff’s Bogoroditse Devo from his Vespers was sung from the choir stalls, starting pianissimo and growing in volume until it became a very stirring piece. Bendigedig by Robat Arwyn was sung in Welsh. As a native speaker I can attest to their good pronunciation.

The organ added another dimension as Christopher Enston played two pieces to separate the groups of songs. First there was Bach’s Toccata And Fugue In D Minor followed by an excellent arrangement of Handel’s Lift Up Thy Heads. This was organ playing at its best — smooth and unhurried through the changes in pace and registers.

The choir used the building’s acoustics to great effect with Handel’s Zadok The Priest and Parry’s I Was Glad resonating around the abbey. The concert finished with the choir surrounding the congregation to sing in “surroundsound” which showed masterful control of their voices.

Review: John Evans

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