REVIEW The Renaissance Choir St Peter’s Church, Petersfield

A refugee in South Sudan

A country ravaged by years of bitter civil war and conflict

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There were many highlights in Saturday’s imaginatively planned

programme of English and French repertoire, including Ian Schofield’s

ingenious and beautiful setting of words by Bengali polymath/writer

Radindranath Tagore.

This choir does lush chording and hushed dynamics to considerable

effect, as shown in Schofield’s ‘Stream of Life’, and they are at

their most reliable in music made of conjunct lines, as in the

plainsong-inspired Duruflé motets. They were also convincing in the

neatly structured homophony of Harris’s ‘Bring us, O Lord God.’ But,

what they’re not always so good at is non-Latin diction and, as well

as missing consonants in some English words (where was the ‘t’ in

light, the ‘th’ in death?), there was scope for considerably more

engagement with the French language in Fauré’s Cantique de Jean

Racine.

However, there’s much to be said for the old adage of keeping the best

till last, and they gave a heartfelt yet spirited account of Poulenc’s

Gloria to close their concert. The accompaniment was delivered

skillfully by pianist Karen Kingsley with haunting soprano solos by

the excellent Susan Yarnall, the choir singing dramatically yet

equally often with delicacy. An enjoyable evening playing to a

deservedly full house.