MARCH 2013 CONCERT
A wintry scene outside was an appropriate setting for Aylesbury Choral Society’s March concert of Russian music; fortunately it was warm inside St Mary’s Church.
Russian is a difficult language to sing and much of the music was unfamiliar. The choir was in good form,
unaccompanied throughout, with the basses singing their low Ds resonantly and the pitch only dropping in one piece.
The first half the music of Kedrov, Arensky and Bortnyansky gave a most Russian feel to the evening. Conductor Peter
Leech remarked that whereas 19th Century Russian orchestral music (think of Scriabin) looked forwards,
church music looked backwards. Nevertheless, with Rachmaninov, the choral pieces were of greater musical
interest and his “Thou didst rise from the tomb”, unlike most Western celebratory Easter music, provided a lugubrious Russian slant on the Resurrection.
The warmest applause of the evening, notwithstanding the choir’s laudable performances, was for Colin Spinks’ and Gus Orchard’s piano duets, particularly of Rachmaninov’s “Slava” (Op11 No 6) a stunning working of a Russian folksong
that Beethoven had used in one of his “Rasumovsky” string quartets.
It is easy for choral societies to keep to the standard repertoire and it is inspiring that Aylesbury Choral Society so often is prepared to present us with imaginative programmes.