Review: Welsh Camerata @ Church Of Saint John The EvangelistÂ
After seeing The Sixteen in the build up to Christmas, I was in the mood to hear more choral music.
This concert seemed an appropriate find, as I discovered a flyer for it in Central Library. Speaking by email to them, the lady who dealt with my tickets informed me to 'be kind' in my review, as they were down in numbers due to illness.
I took this into account and braced the cold weather to attend the concert, which was being done in a church in Canton. You can't mistake Saint John's Church. The tower has these little extra gothic features, which appear as add-ons to it. They jut and I doubt I have seen it like that on another local church.
Battling a slight hangover (I can't abide when I very rarely feel like this) I found solace in the evening's music. There was a grand list of music sung from all over Europe. Old medieval hymns and work by William Byrd (who had the most preformed pieces) rubbed elbows with an extract of Rachmaninov's Vespers.
We even had a translation to the right hand side of the choir, although pillars would have disrupted some people's view of this. I was at the back and had a decent view of the display. Although to be fair I think we all know what to expect when it comes to the text of religious music. But in this concert, the emphasis was that of Mary, the Virgin Mary or Mother of God, if you will.
In their next concert, they will be performing in Church of St Mary of the Angels in Canton. Now, wouldn't that have been the appropriate place for this Marian concert? But we were also treated to some instrumental works of centuries long gone.
Viols, bass viols and recorders had brief moments in a few extracts. The choir arrived from the back of the church and sang as they went to the front of the audience. They did this at the end of the concert as well, going back to where they started so we could meet them over drinks and nibbles.
The most memorable work was that of an old Spanish piece from 1556 in the programme called Riu, Riu, Chiu (Villancico, Cancionero De Uppsala). The pulsating rhythms of the tambourine and festive cheer and haste of the singing leaves you in a funky state. They ended the evening with There Is No Rose, an old 15th Century anonymous piece. I recognised it immediately as it was also preformed by The Sixteen a few weeks beforehand.
I found it amusing in The Sixteen's programme for that event as they sang one work about a rose and then sang There Is No Rose, which seemed to dismiss what had come before. It was a delight to hear again and it's well worth a listen. It has very calming and charming qualities. I believe also that it is written in the iambic pentameter. The start being: "There is no rose of such virtue/as is the rose that bare Jesu."
One thing you do learn when you listen to choral music: you realise how much is written anonymously. I have images of monks and other clergymen so humble and modest, they simply could not bare to have their names associated with any of their compositions. Will we ever know who wrote these hoards of music? Hard to say...
This is a choir who need more support. I will see them in the future and encourage others to do so as well.
God bless the Welsh Camerata!