Reviews

A Concert of Festive Music with Swansea Bach Choir.

"Is there a better way to relax in the frantic build-up to Christmas than to sit back and absorb the wonderful tones of the Swansea Bach Choir"

Swansea Bach Choir / Greg Hallam & James Bingham (conductors), Gwenllian Llyr (harp).

Rutter, Skempton, Carter, Britten.

Stradey Castle, Llanelli.  Sunday, 14th December 2014.

Reviewed here by the South Wales Evening Post.

 

 

O Magnum Mysterium.

"Marvellous Waves of Sound from Swansea Bach Choir."

Swansea Bach Choir / Greg Hallam (conductor), Glenn Crooks (organ).

Parsons, Guerrero, Byrd, Daquin, Distler, Pachebel, Bach, Lauridsen.

St Gabriel's Church, Brynmill.  Sunday, 9th December 2012.

Reviewed here by Neil Reeve of Seen and Heard International.

 

 

Jesu, Meine Freude.

"Swansea Bach Choir Maintains its High Standards"

Swansea Bach Choir, Rebecca Herman ('cello), James Gough (organ), Greg Hallam (conductor).

Blow, Salvator mundi.  Purcell, Hear my prayer.  Gibbons, Fantasia in four parts.  J. S. Bach, Cello Suite no 2, in D minor, BWV 1008.  Arvo Pärt , Tribute to Caesar.  Tallis, In jejunio et fletu.  J. S. Bach, Trio Sonata no. 4 for organ, BWV 528.  J. S. Bach, Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 227.

St Mary’s Church, Swansea.  Saturday, 17th March 2012.

Reviewed here by Neil Reeve of Seen and Heard International.

 

 

The Dying of the Light.

"Swansea Bach Choir bid a glorious farewell to their legendary founder and conductor"

Swansea Bach Choir, Siân Menna Price (mezzo), Stephen Charlesworth (baritone), Jeffrey Howard (piano and organ), John Hugh Thomas (conductor).

Tallis, Te lucis ante terminum.  Tallis, O nata lux.  Tallis, Jesu salvator mundi.  Gibbons, The Silver Swan.  Rutter, Hymn to the Creator of Light.  Barber, Four Songs.  Lauridsen, Nocturnes.  Duruflé, Requiem.

All Saints' Church, Oystermouth.  Sunday, 17th July 2011.

Reviewed here by Glyn Pursglove of Seen and Heard International.

 

 

45th Anniversary Concert.

Swansea Bach Choir, John Hugh Thomas (conductor), Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano), Gill Ross (soprano), Amy Carson (soprano), James Neville (countertenor), Sinfonia Britannica of London (leader: Daniel Edgar), Alastair Ross (chamber organ).

Bach, Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 4.  Bach, Ich habe genug, BWV 82.  Handel, Dixit Dominus.

St Mary's Church, Swansea.  Saturday, 9th April 2011.

Reviewed here by N H Reeve of Seen and Heard International.

 

 
 

"Performances of Brahms' glorious Requiem are almost always noteworthy occasions, and that on the afternoon of 9 April [2006], Palm Sunday, was memorable for celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Swansea Bach Choir.  Under the baton of its Founder, John Hugh Thomas, the Choir has achieved a considerable reputation, happily one not confined to the music of Johann Sebastian, the current Anniversary Season reflecting an energy and enthusiasm on the part of both singers and conductor that shows no sign of waning.  Nevertheless, this concert did mark the last collaboration of its kind with one of John Hugh Thomas's other choirs, the Cardiff Polyphonic Choir, whose conductorship he has just relinquished after many distinguished years of working with them.  For this Brahms performance, the Swansea Bach and the Polys, as they are affectionately known, were also joined by the young choir Cordydd.  From the opening movement, Selig sind, die da Leid tragen , the Chorus's German was exemplary, each syllable crystal clear and expressive of real depth and emotion.

The combination of this clarity of delivery with a highly disciplined ensemble and wonderful warmth of tone could hardly be bettered and sounded particularly well in the Brangwyn Hall's fine acoustic.  Brahms's characteristic lyricism and the many moments of transcendent beauty were realised by Thomas with an unselfconscious tenderness.

Baritone Robert Davies brought a finely measured resonance to the aria Herr, Lehre mich doch , while Elin Manahan Thomas's soprano had an angelic purity which, though not an obviously Brahmsian sound, was nevertheless most touching.

John Hugh Thomas is one of Wales's great assets as a conductor and Chorus Master, instrumental in the careers of many of the country's finest singers.  He himself was for many years a member of the Heinrich Schütz and the Monteverdi Choirs; he has invested his own choirs with the same fastidious approach but Thomas's defining characteristic is his very fine musicianship and, as a result, his concerts are invariably rewarding experiences.  The testimony of many very celebrated musicians, among them Dame Janet Baker, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and Sir Roger Norrington in the brochure published to mark the Swansea Bach Choir's Anniversary, made it clear that it has always been so.  John Hugh Thomas will continue to conduct memorable concerts for a long time to come but the occasion of the Swansea Choir's celebration and his retirement from the Cardiff Polyphonic Choir makes it an appropriate time to pay tribute here."

Musical Opinion

 

 
 

Messiah

"Rarely have I seen a performance of this wonderful creation with such clarity and conviction.  The Swansea Bach Choir, known for its near perfect performances of many of the great sacred works…takes some beating."

South Wales Evening Post

 

 
 

Palm Sunday - music by Mendelssohn, Rheinberger and Pergolesi

"In Rheinberger's Stabat mater their balance and richness of tone ended an outstanding afternoon of liturgical music."

South Wales Evening Post

 

 
 

"The choir, always sensitive to the highly musical and intelligent interpretations of their director, John Hugh Thomas, came into its own here.  Their sound was rich, the words clear, and the drama of the crucifixion scene subtly reflected."

Guardian

 

 
 

Duruflé Requiem

"...choral singing of international standard.  The balance and precision...never faltered...moving and technically extraordinary."

South Wales Evening Post

 

 
 

Messiah

"...in this finely judged performance there was not a boring or predictable moment.  The sound was bright and pure…and Handel's contrapuntal lines were cleanly articulated…Thomas drew singing that measured convincingly against the most stringent markers."

Guardian


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