Review: Nottingham Bach Choir & Orchestra, St Mary's Church
Francis Grier wrote Around the Curve of the World (2000) for a specific occasion, the 150th anniversary of an Anglican colony in New Zealand.
Such works often get a couple of performances at most, so does Grier's deserve better? Nottingham Bach Choir and Orchestra answered with a resounding Yes on Saturday. Under Paul Hale's direction the score showed a fine sense of pace and impressive climaxes.
Combining human emotions and the changing motions of the sea, choir and orchestra resembled a constantly turning kaleidoscope. No Maori chants will be found here. But Sue Mayo's text is no hymn to empire building, simply a tale of travellers seeking a new life, "free to live in partnership with those who dwelt here first."
And while recalling a little Stravinsky and a fair bit of Britten, Grier's soundtrack of canticles, narratives and psalms creates a dramatic world of its own.
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The choir supplied the female semi-chorus who introduce each leg of the voyage. There was impassioned solo singing from bass Adrian Clarke as the colony's founder and mezzo Sarah Pring as his wife. Soprano Dorothee Jansen and tenor Stephen Brown made vivid emigrants.
Earlier, Parry and Vaughan Williams enjoyed strong and stirring performances.