In many ways the hero and heroine of this concert were Francis Rayne and Stephanie Gurga on piano. Not only did they perform Brahms’s sonata for two pianos in F minor op 34b – an unusual outing – with tender intelligence but they gave us energetic accompaniment to Carl Orff’s best known work.
This Carmina Burana used the Willhelm Killmayer concert version scored for two pianos and six percussionists. It must be great fun to do because the scoring is very imaginative and it’s good to see percussion to the fore. The six players here did a fine and precise job.
And so to the choir. Carmina Burana is a challenging and long sing but the energy held up pretty well. Marcio da Silva has an unusual style, carving visual shapes with his hands, but he brings the best out in the singers most of the time. What with all those unfamiliar words (we’re a long way from the comfort zone of the usual masses and magnificats here), cross rhythms and syncopation this is not a work for the chorally faint hearted.
High spots included the vibrant sound in the opening and closing choruses, the very rich confident alto work in the exposed section of Primo Vere and slow section of Swaz Hie Gat Umbe and the well handled shift into 3|4 time for Floret Silva.
There was some lovely solo singing – full of colour and character – from Ricardo Panela although he struggles for those cruel falsetto notes and ducked out of one top G altogether. Ellen Williams, the soprano soloist, has an ethereally sweet voice which worked well here to connote innocence especially in Dulcissime.
St Mary In The Castle has a terrific acoustic and it’s a credit to Hastings Borough Council which originally facilitated the rebirth of this listed building. Today, however, it has no council funding and certainly needs more investment. My plus one is disabled and I reckon that the venue’s two person lift is the slowest in Sussex. By Susan Elkin.