Trianon at St. John’s – Review

St. John the Baptist Church Ipswich, 22nd April 2017

Under the baton of renowned guest conductor and former leader of the Trianon Orchestra Adrian Brown, the concert comprised three works of spirituality and reformation derivation by Hubert Parry, Mendelssohn and Puccini. St. John’s Church with its size and good acoustics gives a fitting ambience and elegant venue for a celestial programme.

Parry’s Blest Pair of Sirens is a short but majestic choral work with a stirring opening which immediately draws you to the heavenly theme of what follows. Perhaps not unnaturally for an English composer who also wrote the music for Jerusalem, there are traces of proud heritage coming through and it is noteworthy that it was played at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Symphony No. 5 in D (Reformation) Op. 107 is Mendelssohn’s final major symphony. Unlike the Parry it starts slow and light before entering the jolly and catchy Allegro. The Andante then gives different instruments their moments of expression before again joining the full orchestra with the blending of strings and brass for the hymn-like finish.

The second half of the concert was Puccini’s Messa di Gloria, with guest soloists Tim Gillott (bass-baritone) and local tenor Paul Bloomfield. This is a mass with a heavy influence of the composer’s better known operatic and theatrical style of later years. Both sacred and reverential yet also melodious and easy on the ear, it is a mix which might seem a bit odd for an ecclesiastic mass but its beauty is in its difference, culminating in the Agnus Dei diminuendo ending. It is a surprisingly moving work which deservedly received a well-appreciated ovation from the audience.

Noticeable throughout the evening was how the balance of instruments and voice was spot on. The orchestra never overwhelmed the choir but was given full command when called upon, and the choral strength was equally impressive.

Congratulations to all involved for a splendid evening of truly divine music.

Stuart Reid