Romantic Masterworks, May 2016

Dvorak and his wife, 1886Dvorak and his wife, 1886 Saturday May 7th 2016 Robert and Clara SchumannRobert and Clara Schumann
7:00 pm
Royal Northern College of Music
Brahms in 1866Brahms in 1866
The three composers featured in this concert were prominent in the Romantic movement which dominated European music during the nineteenth century. Brahms and Schumann were German and Dvorak was Czech.  There are connections between them; it is possible that Brahms wrote his Requiem partly because of the death of Robert Schumann who was a great admirer of Brahms.  Brahms was one of the first to recognise Dvorak’s talent and had a great influence on his career.
Dvorak: Te Deum
This work was composed in 1892 to recognise the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Americas by Columbus. It was composed before Dvorak went to the USA and was premiered in 1892 at his first concert in New York. It is scored for soprano and baritone soloists and chorus and sets to music the ancient hymn of praise which appears in the Book of Common Prayer as “We Praise thee O God. We acknowledge thee to be the Lord…”
Schumann: Piano Concerto
This was performed by the choir’s accompanist, Angela Lloyd-Mostyn, accompanied by the East Lancs Sinfonia.  The work was completed in 1845 and first performed by Schumann’s wife Clara in Leipzig.
Brahms: German Requiem (Sung in English)
This was the main work for the choir.  It is Brahms’s longest composition and a famously hard sing, though well worth it for the great music.  It was composed between 1865 and 1868 after the death of Brahms’s mother.  Instead of using the traditional text of the Latin mass, Brahms selected passages from the Lutheran Bible, and of course these were in German.  The work is humanist rather than religious and focuses on the living left behind rather than the departed.  There are seven movements and the choir feature in all of them.  The most well-known movement is probably the fourth “How Lovely are Thy Dwellings”.
Report on the Concert
The concert was well attended and greatly enjoyed by performers and audience alike. The conductor provided an entertaining touch at the start by arriving on stage wearing his football scarf, Burnley having that afternoon won the Championship. For the choir, who had rehearsed for several months to prepare this concert, it was gratifying that it went so well. It was also good to have a chance to enjoy Angela’s very impressive performance of the piano concerto while limbering up for the Brahms Requiem.

Stuart Ferguson has kindly provided the following review:

“Joy, Tears and Consolation”

Oldham Choral Society teamed up with the East Lancs Sinfonia and presented an excellent evening of, as the programme described, great romantic master-works. Conductor Nigel P. Wilkinson was, once again, the powerful force in melding the two together under his energetic baton and, on occasions, balletic conducting. His Burnley F.C. scarf won him an extra cheer on entry.

The newly-refurbished main concert hall of the Royal Northern College of Music was the superb venue for this exciting evening of ‘Joy, Tears and Consolation’.

Starting with Te Deum by Dvorak, the Choral Society were in full, vibrant voice, and the Sinfonia in joyous harmony as they began the piece in a mood almost reminiscent of a gospel choir in full flight. Soloists were James Cleverton, baritone and Natasha Jouhl, soprano, both giving full depth to the traditional hymn of praise.
Having sung the Te Deum, by several composers, in church choir settings for many years I was stirred by the depth of feeling in this offering.

And then for something completely different … an instrumental piece: Piano Concerto in A by Schumann. This was powerfully played by Angela Lloyd-Mostyn with the East Lancs Sinfonia. Angela is the accompanist for the Choral Society and has been involved in recent performances for many years. That she was given her time in the spotlight was a delight. From the dramatic outburst of the first movement to the drive and energy of the finale, it is no wonder this work of Schumann’s became a model for later composers.

The second half of the concert was dedicated to the Brahms Requiem, sung in English, by the 100-strong choir and the 32-piece Sinfonia. There are various English texts and Nigel had adapted translations to create the one sung tonight. Both soloists created their parts admirably and the choral society gave an excellent performance of the seven movements that make up the piece. The penultimate movement with baritone solo and chorus opens dramatically and ended with a climatic rendition of Lord Thou art worthy of Praise. The final movement is more peaceful and reflective.

The evening was a superb demonstration of the immense talents of everyone involved. Well done.

Click here to view the concert programme.

Natasha Jouhl
Natasha Jouhl – Soprano
James Cleverton
James Cleverton – Baritone
Angela Lloyd-Mostyn
Angela Lloyd-Mostyn – Piano
East Lancs Sinfonia
Nigel P Wilkinson Conductor

Tickets at £15 (students £5, accompanied children £1) are available from:

– Our ticket secretary on 01457 875 221

– The RNCM Box Office 0161 907 5555