Friday 18 May 2007

Nice Things

I've been compiling a selection of the nice things which Roderick Dunnett said about us in his review of our March 18th concert. Most of the quotes concern the performances but the last one, which I quote at length, relates to my piece which was premièred that day.

the FifteenB Consort, a versatile and committed small ensemble directed by the composer Robert Hugill,

The sopranos and altos (here, just four voices) sang with just the kind of tender restraint and fine-honed ensemble this masterly example of word-setting calls for.

In [...] Pelham Humfrey's rarely heard Lord, Teach us to Number our Days, it was the choir's impassioned tutti sections and forceful imitations that registered most strongly;

Ward's Come, sable night, [...] was sung lucidly, if perhaps a little too retiringly.

one passage for four voices -- two upper, then two lower, came over with attractive assurance;

Gibbons' Almighty and Everlasting God [...] received a beautifully measured and nuanced delivery by all four voices.

an appealing baritone solo and some incisive singing from the alto line especially. Perhaps one looked for a little more vitality and stronger projection in some of these pieces: at times the singers seemed to hide their talents under a bushel. Yet just the opportunity to hear some of these rarer works in live performances was immensely satisfying. This was a most handsome piece of singing, nicely matched by support from the rest of the choir.

The other [contemporary piece] was a work by the conductor himself, who also furnished the tenor line in this concert: Robert Hugill's appealing anthem My Eyes are ever Turned unto the Lord is indeed a modern contribution to the tradition of the verse anthem; …. The deft alternation of solo and tutti sections revealed real inspiration, the style -- while not untouched by such modern masters as Pärt or Gorecki -- seemed to be neither a hybrid nor a borrowing, but fresh and original, arguably with its own identifiable voice, and Hugill's work in no way paled in comparison with the Tudor pieces surrounding it. Originally composed for a wedding, this 21st century anthem is a beautifully turned, enticing piece of music which skilfully embraced a range of contrasting moods and contrived to say a good deal in a short space. This attractive, well-crafted piece certainly, in my book, deserves to be known more widely.

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