Monday 2 May 2011 at 7:30pm
Sherborne Festival Chorus
with Sherborne Chamber Choir, the Madrigal Society of Sherborne Girls
and Chameleon Arts Orchestra
Soprano Claire Seaton
Conductor Paul Ellis
Holst The Hymn of Jesus
Strauss Four Last Songs
Poulenc Four Lenten Motets (performed by Sherborne Chamber Choir)
This year’s annual performance by the Sherborne Festival Chorus contains some of the finest choral and vocal works of the last century and promises to explore the full extent of human emotion, from the dance rhythms of Holst’s Hymn of Jesus, through Richard Strauss’ haunting Four Last Songs to two contrasting works by Poulenc: his Four Lenten Motets and the playful Gloria.
Holst’s Hymn of Jesus was his first major work after The Planets. An outstanding success from its first performance in 1920, Vaughan Williams, its dedicatee, said he just ‘wanted to get up and embrace everyone’. Combining plainchant with Latin hymns and texts from the Apocrypha and yet taking as its theme the affinity with God through dancing, it is a work of many contrasts and another of Holst’s masterpieces.
His last completed work, Strauss’ haunting yet magnificent Four Last Songs for soprano and orchestra take a nostalgic look at the last days of life, through images of rebirth in spring, autumn, rest and sunset, described by British musicologist Neville Cardus as ‘the most consciously and most beautifully delivered ‘Abschied’ [‘farewell’] in all music.’
Completing the programme is Poulenc’s exuberant Gloria, which has become one of the most popular choral works of the last fifty years. By equal measures energetic, mischievous, lyrical and serene, it was for Poulenc ‘certainly the best thing I have done’.
For up to date information on this and other Festival concerts, see www.sherborneabbey.org.