Our next concert is next Sunday, March 25th, at the Guildhall, Plymouth.
I usually recommend our concerts with a degree of enthusiasm to match the programme. I’m sorry to say that in this case I can only recommend half of the concert. One lovely work that’s well worth coming for, another that … isn’t.
The work I can enthusiastically recommend is Andrew Carter’s Benedicite. This is my first encounter with Carter’s music, and it’s been a delight! The work sets childishly simple religious words and has a certain aura of the nursery. But musically speaking it’s the deceptive simplicity of Peter and the Wolf or the Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, with a directness built on foundations that are sometimes far from simple. Indeed, the complexity of the rhythms make this rather challenging to sing, most notably where different performers’ rhythms cut across each other. But to hear it you’d think it was all very simple and effortless, even when that little “waltz” tune is really in 5/4! And it’s easy to overlook the naffness of the words when the music is so evocative as, for example, the brittle coldness of “snow and ice”.
Unfortunately the other work is the longer, and frankly makes the Victorian hymns we used to suffer in school assembly sound positively inspiring by contrast. Karl Jenkins is surely the archetypal product of a music “industry” that decided it wanted a genre to call “classical” by virtue of using classical forces, but over which it could exercise intellectual property rights. Jenkins’s muzak (a requiem) is so dreary as to make an hour in B&Q seem preferable: at least there one might be inspired to buy something to improve ones home. Where there is a flicker of interest it’s utterly derivative: the first movement is the most interesting, but that’s because it’s drawn from the Fauré – echos of which recur later. Elsewhere Jenkins even manages to dumb down Lloyd Webber’s Pie Jesu.
Given two such contrasting works, I leave it to those readers within evening-out distance of Plymouth to decide whether to read this as a recommendation.