23 December 2014

Get it while you can

That great philosopher, Janis Joplin, once sang Get it while you can. It's like that at Christmas, with a string of concerts, before the lull of Boxing day and January. From the High Court, it was a short walk to the National Portrait Gallery for Tobias Cole's choral quartet, Clarion, performing for Evensong. Just a little concert and only for the most hard-core audience who survived Helen's long show. But this was a thing of great perfection, of satisfying beauty. Just four voices, in skilled harmony, sometimes close and edgy, singing in a quiet space. Something to treasure. The concert started in front of a portrait of James Morrison in Gallery 6, but the music was wildly different, perhaps more commensurate with the works of Paul Grabowski, whose portrait hung just nearby. I guess this was SATB with female soprano and males performing the other parts. They sang three tunes, then journeyed to the foyer for a few (I missed these) then returned for some more and a final move to the foyer. The final foyer piece was with a mostly-children's quartet. [Thinking back afterwards, I think this was Katie Cole and kids / Ed.] There was a harp, so I expect Meriel Owen played for the first foyer outing. The first piece was modern and religious, close harmonies and chromatic bass lines. Then In the bleak midwinter, slow and sweet and rural feeling. Then a stunning Sculthorpe, starting with dotted bass and line and a coloured patch then dissonant melody. Then a break. On return I recognised Byrd's Lullaby my sweet little baby in three parts, then a piece on the notorious Genesis apple and There is no rose of such virtue with interleaved lines. Finally a move to the foyer and Hodie Christus natus est, all of dignified, cathedral-worthy latin adoration, performed by eight singers in two choirs. A worthy and very satisfying Christmas outing sung with great precision.

Clarion was led by Tobias Cole (presumably alto in this outing) with Nathalie O'Toole (soprano), Paul Eldon (tenor) and Peter Tregear (bass).

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