Brunel 200 anniversary concert

Friday 31st March 2006, Clifton Cathedral, Bristol

This concert was the first large-scale musical celebration of the Brunel 200 anniversary. An exciting and imaginative programme had been compiled by the organisers culminating in the world premiere of a choral work.

The Exultate Singers, with the excellent David Ogden in control, had a big part to play in the proceedings. Opening with four Negro Spirituals from Michael Tippett's A Child of our Time, the choir successfully fluctuated between the dramatic sound of Steal Away and the jollity of O By and By.

The small string section of the Emerald Ensemble struggled to be heard in the vast confines of the cathedral in Peter Warlock's Capriol Suite. However, when augmented the orchestra gave a forceful performance of De Falla's Ritual Fire Dance Suite from El Amor Brujo.

The superb singing of treble Sam Adams Nye, already heard in the Tippett work, was particularly evident in some of the songs from Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols. His pure tone was especially noticeable in the higher notes of this piece and he produced an impressive sound throughout. Two more contrasting spirituals by the choir brought the first half to a close.

Bristol-based Martin Kiszko has composed music for TV and films and was commissioned to write the cantata A Radius of Curves especially for these celebrations. He spent a great deal of time researching Brunel's writings and eventually compiled eight sections recounting the construction of the Great Western Railway. With a larger orchestra the composer made clever use of synthesisers and a varied percussion section. Martin le Poidevin was a powerful and persuasive Brunel and the whole performance was a credit to all involved.

John Packwood, Bristol Evening Post, 3 April 2006

Copyright 2006 Evening Post