This concert on 16 October 2021 was the first by Polymnia for 19 months and with their new musical director, Susie Vango. A theme of sunset and departures seemed a little strange for a first concert since the start of the pandemic, however Seneca’s quote of ‘Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end’ encompassed the reason for this choice.
Polymnia made a beautiful self assured start with Morning star (Arvo Pärt) followed by the unaccompanied Beati quorum via (CV Stanford) which is so well known by choral singers, sung with precision and warmth.
Faire is the heaven (William Henry Harris) was also unaccompanied and their voices swooped and soared.
Robert Challinor was welcomed as accompanist for the Cantique de Jean Racine (Gabriel Fauré).
This was followed by Robert playing a piano solo: Nocturne Op 16 No 4 (Ignacy Paderewski). Lovely, sensitive playing.
His second piece was Alexander Rosenblatt’s Dreaming (after Schumann).
Polymnia sang another piece by Arvo Pärt: The deer’s cry (unaccompanied).
This was followed by funkier piece Deep in the night (Jussi Chydnius), also unaccompanied.
The concert featured a world premiere: a series of 3 poems (anyone lived in a pretty how town; when god lets my body be; maggie and milly and molly and may) by ee Cummings with the composer Geoff Haynes in the audience. It was very well received.
Mendelssohn’s Verleih Uni Frieden was accompanied by the piano and started with the lower voices. With the second verse joined by the upper voices and the third verse a much more full sound, a beautiful rendition.
Robert Challinor played another piano solo - a Viennese dance by Ignaz Friedman, with some flourish at the end of an era.
He followed this with Gershwin transcribed by Earl Wild: Somebody loves me.
Hubert Parry’s Songs of farewell (My soul, there is a country; I know my soul hath power; Never weather-beaten sail) once again allowed the choir to demonstrate its considerable control over dynamic as their voices blended with clarity and warmth.
Abendlied, written by Rheinberger when he was only 15 years old, was a fitting way to end an evening of beautifully sung choral music interspersed with piano solos.
Richard Rodney Bennett’s Goodnight
Refreshments were served at the end of the concert.
Words and photos by Anna Page