The near capacity audience for Bel a cappella at the historic Christ Church St Lawrence were treated to a concert by an ever improving community choir singing repertoire that suits their skill set and creating a performance that shone. Musical director and conductor Anthony Pasquill chose wisely when constructing this concert.
For me the work that stood out for sheer enjoyment was a ‘chorally interspersed’ version of JSBach’s famous violin Chaconne in d minor. Built around a fine performance of the Chaconne by Gemma Lee the choir added simple chorale like moments as if it was the foundation on which Bach’s great work was built. This was sensitive singing from the choir and captivated the listeners.
The concert opened with Ad Manus by Buxtehude. Well thought out tempi and dynamics and with small duration solos from choir members this was a good segue to the music of American composer Caroline Shaw. To the Hands is a very clever work as it never strays into difficult musical territory and allows a non-professional choir to perform at a high level. Bel a cappella seemed to hardly put a note out of place in this twenty minute work.
The largest work by volume and intent was the ever delightful Requiem by Faure. This is French romantic choral music at its best and again was a fine choice for the choir. In a version with string quintet and organ conductor Anthony Pasquill here, and indeed throughout the whole concert, gave a measured and insightful interpretation. He lets the music through and avoids grandiosity. Pasquill is a musician’s musician.
And a special mention for the colourful and well blended organ playing must be given to Joshua Ryan.