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St.Davids Cathedral Easter Monday 2010

Posted in the Concert Reports Category

Jane Watts organ
Nerys Richards cello
Lowri Morgan double bass

When local and most national press have long ceased attending concerts it is always difficult for anyone connected with a performance, feeling duty bound to report what went on factually, remaining unbiased.

Unfortunately such a one was prevented by circumstances, including a recording taking place, needing absolute quiet, from being in at the beginning. Suffice it to say, what was diffused through a door, still conveyed an extra- ordinary atmosphere and it seemed that from the concert’s start the audience was taking the programme note seriously to give the music a noiseless response.

To come into the full splendour of the Choir’s absorption of John S.Davies’ magnetic reading of words and music there was as always to regular patrons of this conductor’s interpretations, a point here and there, when the hair on the back of the neck rises. This is only possible when it naturally occurs.

Faure’s Messe Basse for women’s voices was highlighted with the special singing of Samantha Price and the performance of Mendelssohn’s Evening Vespers for men was marked by the sound of the kind of male voice heard in other great British cathedrals. The latter had an unusual cello and double bass accompaniment played by Nerys Richards and Lowri Morgan, two musicians from Pembrokeshire pursuing professional careers.

The first half started with one of everybody’s favourites, Parry’s I was glad which always sets a scene in the hope that it echoes the thoughts of why one is there. To end that part, the organ came into its glory in Balfour Gardiner’s Evening Hymn and Elgar’s wonderful Benedictus.

Jane Watts, international organist from Wales, although not given a truly solo role on this return visit, nevertheless accompanied the Singers and demonstrated why she has made many records and was the first woman to be appointed as organist to the Bach Choir in London (founded in 1876).

The concert ended with Dvorak’s Mass in D originally written for organ and choir, a piece full of melody with a range of emotions, exultant in parts, a chilling Crucifixus and a soaring Hosanna in excelsis. Over and above there were breathtaking pianissimo passages which the supreme interpreter, John S.Davies, exploited to the full, especially the final Dona nobis pacem (Grant us peace) which faded away into a breathless hush. With more than a few perhaps echoing the prayer, silently, before prolonged applause.

St.Davids Cathedral is perhaps one of few churches in Britain with a perfect acoustic, that can do full justice to works which are in themselves demanding of intellectual and emotional thinking – musically no problem.