Concert Review June 2019 – Clive Peacock, Leamington Courier

Royal Leamington Spa Bach Choir: Brunning and Rutter

All Saints’ Church, Leamington, June 29

Review by Clive Peacock

A blazingly hot Saturday attracted many to All Saints’ as the “coolest venue in town”. The many were rewarded with conductor Christopher Cromar’s third assignment with the RLS Bach Choir, where his influence is already noticed, in a concert of works by John Brunning and John Rutter. As a stalwart of Classic FM, Brunning has created quite a niche for himself as one of the longest lasting presenters on the channel. In recent years he has turned his attention to composing using his favoured instrument, the guitar – a return to his early years in showbusiness as a member of Mungo Jerry.  Brunning introduced his work, 3 Motets, a recent composition, providing the sopranos the chance to excel in Agnus Dei.  The full choir blossomed in Ubi Caritas. Brunning’s second offering, a seven movement oratorio, begins with a most beautiful, haunting piece – Amazing Day, which gives its name to the work.  The remarkable mezzo-soprano Melanie Marshall joined the choir, energising the members to deliver an account so memorable an audience member immediately requested permission to use the work as a theme at school assembly. Cromar demanded a crisp finish to part three, Pie Jesu, and achieved it; he would have liked a stronger pace in part seven, Hallelujah, but it wasn’t quite there.  Melanie Marshall, a founding member of John Rutter’s Cambridge Singers, worked with the composer to conceive the cycle of spirituals – Feel the Spirit.  This jazz-inspired second half ended with the most rousing rendition of When the Saints go Marching In, bringing this 79th RLS Bach Choir season to a happy close.  They are in good shape.

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