Ex Cathedra: The Face of Humanity

Sunday 17 February 2013 at 4.00pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121 345 0600

 

Jeffrey Skidmore conductor
David Briggs organ
Grace Davidson soprano
Greg Skidmore baritone
Ex Cathedra
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Poulenc: Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani 19′
Poulenc: Figure Humaine 21′
Fauré: Requiem 38′ Listen on Spotify

“I wanted to write something different,” said Gabriel Fauré, and his Requiem is exactly that. There’s no terror or rage here: just music of deep peace, tender humanity, and – in the lovely Pie Jesu – transcendent beauty. Birmingham’s world-famous chamber choir joins the CBSO for this very special performance, and marks the 50th anniversary of Poulenc’s death with two very different masterpieces: the powerful Figure Humaine, written in occupied France, and the roof-raising drama of Poulenc’s flamboyant Organ Concerto. www.cbso.co.uk

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Review by John Quinn, MusicWeb, SeenandHeard:

Click here for full review

…     “The two soloists sang with the choir – a pleasingly collegiate touch – and stepped forward to the front of the choir but behind the orchestra for their solos. Though they were thus positioned further back than one might have expected neither seemed to have the slightest difficulty in projecting their solos. Greg Skidmore has a good, firm baritone which he used to excellent effect in both his solos. Grace Davidson gave a beguiling account of the famous ‘Pie Jesu’. Her tone was warm and pure and her gently beseeching delivery was just right. The choir sang with great finesse and control. Line was always paramount, it seemed, and the diction was excellent throughout. The orchestral playing demonstrated consistent refinement and from my seat in the stalls it appeared that the balance between orchestra and singers was expertly judged. Jeffrey Skidmore’s tempi were always well judged and I appreciated above all the sense of flow that he imparted to the music. The sopranos of Ex Cathedra brought the performance to a perfect conclusion, singing their serene line in the ‘In Paradisum’ with radiant purity. This set the seal on a very fine and thoughtful performance.”

 

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Review by Maggie Cotton, Birmingham Post:

Click here for full review

…     “All 16 acoustic doors were wide open for Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani, the organ console being within the orchestra rather than using the main organ loft far above the musicians. Even so, there was a shock as David Briggs’ first unleashed blast filled the massive space.

Conductor Jeffrey Skidmore sensitively controlled balance between soloist and orchestra. ‘On the fringe of religious music’ packed with differing textures: unstoppable energy, quasi jollity, shimmering showers of notes but including heart-stopping Poulenc poignancy.”     …

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