Schubert and the Animal Kingdom, the next Linden Singers concert’s name could have easily been sub-titled: From the sublime to the ridiculous.
The concert starts in sublime fashion with two works accompanied by the Cathedral Strings lead by Norma Smith and organist Elizabeth Curtis.
Firstly the choir will sing a lively and cheerful Benedictus composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart when he was just 12-years-old followed by Schubert’s lovely, tuneful Mass in G major.
Composed in March 1815, this is the best known of his three ‘short’ masses and was written in less than seven days.
Originally the score only required strings and organ in addition to the choir and soprano, tenor and baritone soloists however in the 1980s, a set of parts for the mass were discovered at Klosterneuburg which were dated later than the original. Including minor changes throughout the work which apparently represent Schubert's final intentions, trumpet and timpani parts were also included.
The original score was not printed until 1845 some years after Schubert's death. Until then Mass in G major had remained one of his less noted compositions, so much so the first edition of the had been usurped by then director of music at Prague's St. Vitus Cathedral Robert Führer who eventually ended up in prison for embezzlement.
During the concert the Linden Singers will perform the original score of strings and organ alongside soloists Kerry Tattersall (soprano), Frank Carter (tenor) and Richard Harris (bass).
Following the interval, the programme lightens up as the choir explores the animal and insect kingdom.
The choir’s founding conductor Basil Brooker said, “composers who lived in the 15th and 16th centuries seemed fixated with the natural world and composed many songs about insects, animals and birds”.
This is seen in the choir’s first bracket of songs dealing with insects starting with El Grillo (the Cricket) by French composer Josquin des Pres (1445 – 1521), another French composition Une Puce (the Flea) by Claude le Jeune (1530 – 1600) and concluding with Englishman Orlando Gibbons (1574 – 1638) composition Sweet Honey Sucking Bees.
The bracket of songs featuring the animal kingdom definitely leans more to the ridiculous opening with George Mitchell’s lively arrangement of Old MacDonald Had a Farm, the well-known nursery rhyme about a farmer named MacDonald and the various animals he kept.
This is followed by a sextet of voices singing Thomas Weelkes (1576 – 1623) The Ape, The Monkey and Baboon. Richard Harris will then entertain with two well-known Flanders and Swann songs The Hippopotamus and The Gnu.
The final group of songs about birds features The Silver Swan by Orlando Gibbons, the lovely traditional Irish song The Lark in the Clear Air and a beautiful setting Mary Colleridge’s poem The Blue Bird by Sir Charles Villers Stanford.
The concert is followed by a complimentary afternoon tea.