Mixed results for Trianon concert

Trianon Music Group, Holbrook School Chapel, September 20The centrepiece to this concert was not the mighty Saint-Saens Organ Symphony or Duruflé's Requiem, but a simple, poignant farewell to a much loved and highly respected former member of the TMG, Frances Gilson, who died of cancer in August.

Trianon Music Group, Holbrook School Chapel, September 20

The centrepiece to this concert was not the mighty Saint-Saens Organ Symphony or Duruflé's Requiem, but a simple, poignant farewell to a much loved and highly respected former member of the TMG, Frances Gilson, who died of cancer in August.

For the Beauty of the Earth, a joyous hymn of celebration arranged by John Rutter, was a favourite of Frances'. The contribution she made to so many groups and organisations was worthy of celebration, and the overwhelming sadness of her death did not mar this simple dedication. The radiant performance shone as did Frances herself, in a life cut short too soon.

The formidable acoustic in the Royal Hospital School Chapel should have lent itself to the opening work, Parry's I Was Glad, but the balance between choir and orchestra, conducted by Christopher Green, was poor with the large choir being completely drowned by the orchestra.


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The unaccompanied Mode Three Anthem by Thomas Tallis gave the choir opportunity to demonstrate their fine tuning and diction and, as in the Rutter, it was beautifully performed. In an excellent piece of programme planning it led into Vaughan Williams's Variations on a Theme of Thomas Tallis.

His intricate scoring for double string orchestra and string quartet is steeped in the modal style of the English Renaissance period, and was performed in a reserved, but expressive manner with particularly fine playing from the quartet led by Steve Browne.

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The over long first half concluded with Saint-Saens Symphony No 3 in C minor with Peter Crompton playing the organ part. Its delightfully French opening introduction frolicked along - the often repeated phrases balanced and well proportioned. The organ reverberated around the chapel, and at the conclusion was matched by the response of the large and appreciative audience.

Duruflé's Requiem uses plainsong melodies throughout set against lush orchestral textures. There was some beautifully refined singing from the choir but all too often they were again completely overpowered by the orchestra, whereas the support from the organist was considerate and precise. The choir of the RHS, singing from the gallery, imbued their part with a distinctly archaic feeling and their purity of tone brought serenity and optimism to the performance. Soloists Sophie Biebuyck sang the demanding Pie Jesu with eloquent tenderness, and Thomas Stoddart gave pleasing nuances to his part.

Hilary Furlong

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