Members will know I ( Anna Brazier ) have now taken over as secretary. Soon I will be reporting back to Ty Cerdd about our January performance. Feedback from membership and audience will be important, so please tell me about your experience of being in Canton Chorus. You can speak to me personally at rehearsals or ask me for my email address. I look forward to hearing from you. I joined a long time ago with no classical music background so it’s been an education in every sense of the word. I love it that we are relaxed about enjoying our music while at the same time work hard to bring fantastic choral works to our local area. Singing once a year with a large orchestra is still a real thrill for me.
(Footnote – congratulations and best wishes to Anna for taking on two rôles, secretary and a website administrator. Until we have worked out how to give Anna her own password she is using mine which is why my name appears at the head of the post not hers – she wrote it not me! BM)
Our registration as a charity dates from April 21st 2016, but there is now further information for members, in that we can now benefit from increased revenue from any members who are UK tax-payers.
Any of our contributors who are in that category can help us reclaim tax on their membership fees by downloading and completing a canton-chorus-gift-aid-declaration Gift Aid form.
The forms can also be handed to members by our treasurer at a rehearsal.
Our Charity Commission registration number is 1166663.
Twenty of us joined early music group The Clerks for a multi-Bach-chorale session on the main stage at St David’s Hall on Sunday March 13th 2016. There’s a full write-up of the concert here from Wales Arts Review. My personal view (Brian Morgan) – well worth it – the rehearsals Ben Pinnow helped us with made such a difference – on that Sunday we actually knew what we were supposed to be singing and we were well up to the standards brought by the two highly respected other Cardiff choirs. Unfortunately no photos have emerged so far. Let’s have some feedback. You can check the two FaceBook pages too. Canton Chorus Canton Chorus 2
Tum Balalaika is a folk song of Russian Jewish and Yiddish origin, which our conductor John Abraham arranged and we sang for the first time on Wednesday 10th February 2016. Brian Morgan recorded some of the rehearsal and this is the version John has agreed we can include on our website. The choir loved this version, we might perform it a bit better in due course.
Until I’ve had a chance to pick suitable images to be shown larger here is the great set taken by Noel Dacey, passed to Margot Henery for me to upload. If anyone has specific choices do let me know – brianmorgan at ntlworld.com
There are numerous recordings, several with downloads available. The following is only a selection.
The recording which is probably most accessible to most of you is Robert Craft’s (2001) on Naxos 8.557504 because, as well as being the cheapest CD to buy, I presume it will also be available online to members of OU staff and members of Bucks County Library. This has been praised for its accuracy to the score, and particularly to Stravinsky’s metronome markings. The choral singing is indeed accurate and good, and it’s particularly clear in the second movement and the fast sections of the third movement which, for different reasons, present the greatest challenges. I do, however, find the choral-orchestral perspective sometimes surprisingly odd for a modern recording, and the overall pacing slightly pedantic.
I can see why the 1966 recording by Karel Ancerl held its place in the charts for so long: his forthright approach and the strong choral sound serve Stravinsky well. The 2003 remastering of this Supraphon recording has also been highly praised. SU 3674-2 211.
The recording by Westmminster Cathedral Choir under James O’Donnell on Hyperion CDA66437 was widely applauded at the time of its release in 1991 and justifiably so. This really is a very good performance, and stylish, and seems to me to indicate two things: firstly, that performances of this piece and in this style are now coming of age; and second, how healthy and sophisticated the British choral tradition is. My only reservation is that a combination of a slight English sweetness and perhaps the very resonant acoustic occasionally take the edge off the clarity required in this particular piece.
Pierre Boulez astonished audiences in the 1970s with the accuracy and polish of his performances of twentieth-century repertoire. His complete Stravinsky recordings are available on Deutsche Gramophon 477 8730 at the bargain price of £19.17 for 6 CDs (from Presto Classical, currently offering 40% reduction on boxed sets). I would call his reading of the Symphony of Psalms a composer’s performance – not completely transparent in every detail but beautifully paced and persuasive as a whole. It seems to me to be lovingly performed – it’s as though he has got beyond all the technical and practical obstacles and to a place where he is contented and relaxed with the piece.
It is always worth hearing Stravinsky’s recordings of his own music. He recorded this piece three times and his Feb. 1931 recording is available as part of a 3-CD set from Andante SC-A-1100. This recording is remarkable for having been made just two months after the premiere, and by different performers. It’s of considerable historical interest as an insight into the composer’s interpretative intentions, although of course that depends on whether he got what he wanted out of the performers. I wouldn’t recommend it as a model of choral tone, but on the other hand it does have a wild, granitic primitiveness which is not inappropriate. And some surprising speeds.
I have been given a loan of a recording from the BBC Music Magazine Collection (BBC MM299) by the BBC Symphony Chorus and Orchestra conducted by (I think) Andrew Davis (the sleeve is somewhat confusing about attribution). It’s a live performance from the Barbican, slightly rhythmically unstable at first but excellently sung throughout by this amateur chorus – British again. In the middle of the second movement it finds its focus and the third movement is very good, the final peroration masterly. I’m uncertain whether it’s available to buy.
Richard Seaton has found, on the Naxos website, a performance by Herreweghe with Collegium Vocale Gent which he says ‘sounds lovely and is a modern full sound which is exciting to listen to’.”
Before bringing members and other readers up to date with the programme for 2015 we must report the very sad news of the recent deaths of two long standing choir members, Carolyn Seymour and Keith Underdown. Keith was also our webmaster and if it were not for the fact that he had recruited me as an editor to support his main rôle we would be unable to make any announcements. For the record, here are the front and back pages of the programme that was available on the day of the most recent performance.Cover and back page Jan 2015 programme
It was great to get back together again and to meet some new faces and some old ones who have returned after considerable absence in some cases.
The first piece of important news is that we have a date for the next concert—2015-01-31.
We started on the Beethoven Mass in C. John is going to rehearse this in strict sequence so tonight we started with the Kyrie which went well. One thing to be aware of is that wherever possible we will sing “Kyrie” as three syllables. The phrase marks seems to suggest otherwise but that’s what we want.
In the second half we started on the Credo and reached the bar before A. We will pick up there next week.
Our Summer Concert (June 28 2014) was a great success, the choir coped magnificently with the Fugue in the Mass and the motets were all performed beautifully. We will restart on September 17 with rehearsals for our Silver Jubilee Concert in late January/early February 2015. The repertoire will be Bach’s Magnificat, Four Spirituals from Tippet’s A Child of our Time and Beethoven’s Mass in C.