ALDWYN VOICES

CHRISTOPHER MORLEY HEARS A REMARKABLE SEQUENCE COMMEMORATING THE END OF THE GREAT WAR
ALDWYN VOICES
Malvern College ****

There are so many joys attached to the Autumn in Malvern Festival, and that's not including the glories of the season: the sheer enthusiasm with which Peter Smith assembles a month-long cornucopia of concerts, exhibitions, talks and other activities; the beautifully-produced, generously-illustrated programme-book; and not least, the Sunday afternoon sequence of choral offerings from Aldwyn Voices interspersed with well-chosen readings.
The theme for this year's Festival (the 29th) was "The Silence in our Hearts", music , poetry and prose to mark the centenary of the ending of the Great War. At its centre we heard the Elgar Violin Sonata, written in 1918 when the composer was hiding himself away from all the metropolitan jingoism rife in London, a work largely introspective, and with a whimsical, brooding Romance as its second movement.
This was by far the most successful movement of the Sonata's three, violinist Mirian Kramer elsewhere under-projecting and allowing Nicholas Durcan, her excellent accompanist, to bask in the status of a Brahmsian equality of balance.
Balances were much more natural from Aldwyn Voices, coached by the urbane and persuasive Adrian Lucas to deliver textures of wonderful clarity, shading dynamics superbly, and fearlessly sustaining bravely drawn-out conclusions. Highlights were the Kyrie from Vaughan Williams' Mass in G minor, My Soul, there is Country by Parry (who died in 1918), Edgar Day's anthem When I survey the wondrous Cross (somehow avoiding memories of the sturdy hymn-tun), and Elgar's consolatory They are at rest.
Peter Sutton was the excellent, involving reader in a range of nuggets dealing with the war and loss of life. His account of John Donne's No Man is an Island entire of Itself was the most irrefutable argument against Brexit you could ever hope to hear.
Christopher Morley

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