John Scott Commemoration

John Scott Commemoration
St Paul’s Cathedral. 6 May 2016

The untimely death in August 2015 of the eminent organist and choral director John Scott was a shock to many. Organist and Director of Music of St Paul’s Cathedral from 1990 to 2004, and then at St Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue, New York, John’s reputation as solo organist and choir director seemed to be on a perpetual rise. His memory remains strong in St Paul’s Cathedral, as was evident from the packed Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving to mark his life, held in place of the usual Evensong on Friday 6 May.

Unusually for English cathedral services, the commemoration was prefaced by 35 minutes of organ music, played by two of John’s former Sub-Organists Continue reading

Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 – OAE / Robert Howarth

Monteverdi Vespers of 1610
Orchestra & Choir of the Age of Enlightenment, Robert Howarth (Director)
City of London Festival. St Paul’s Cathedral. 2 July 2015

WP_20150702_19_03_15_ProThere are many ways of performing Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers, and conductor Robert Howarth’s interpretation with the Choir and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment must count as one of the finest; not just in the technical decisions (which are complex) but in the sheer magnificence of the performance itself. St Paul’s Cathedral is not an easy space to sing into, but the 23 singers of the OAE showed exactly how to do it. It was interesting comparing them to the 106 singers of LSO chorus in last week’s performance of the Haydn Creation, the OAE soloists and chorus producing a far clearer and more focussed sound. Continue reading

Haydn: Creation

Haydn: Creation
City of London Festival. London Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
St Paul’s Cathedral. 24 June 2015

Haydn was a popular composer in London well before his first visit, in 1790. During that visit, according to the minimal note in the City of London Festival programme, he conducted a “hatful” of newly composed symphonies. Who writes this stuff? As well as his hatful of symphonies, he also got to know St Paul’s Cathedral, and heard one of the large-scale performances of Handel oratorios, then all the rage, in Westminster Abbey. But I don’t think WP_20150624_19_20_10_ProHaydn would have seen St Paul’s as an appropriate venue for his 1798 Creation. It was first performed in a theatre in Vienna, with its London première in the similar acoustic of the Covent Garden Theatre. In contrast with these theatre acoustics, he enormous volume of St Paul’s created musical havoc with the sound, even from my privileged seat well towards the front. What people at the back might have heard I can only imagine.

Based on the creation myth from Genesis, Milton’s Continue reading