Bexhill Choral’s annual Carols And Music For Christmas may follow a well-worn path but it is unexpected items which add to the pleasure of the event each year.
On this occasion it was the opening items – an exhilarating Torches! Torches! followed by the mellow glow of Berlioz’ Shepherd’s Farewell which set the tone. Throughout, the crisp rhythms of the choir and the clear diction added to the sense of immediacy.
If Gounod’s Nazareth is almost too sentimental for a 21st century audience, Bob Chilcott’s arrangements are always apt and Kenneth Roberts’ own adaptations move the whole evening into a lighter and more personal vein.
The choir was joined by Peter Grevatt who sang with them for the Gounod and two carol arrangements, but was in his element with Bach’s Grosser Herr from the Christmas Oratorio. Here he was supported by solo trumpeter, Andy Gill, and organist Nigel Howard. Performing from the balcony, in the vibrant acoustic, it was spine-tinglingly exciting.
Accompaniment throughout was provided by Nigel Howard on piano and organ and the Cinque Ports Brass who flowered beautifully in the final movement of Schutz’ Christmas Story. As is now traditional, Kenneth Roberts played clarinet and saxophone for the final songs, and had joined the brass from the piano for the jazz classic Christmas night in Harlem.
All involved were on fine form throughout. By Brian Hick.