|Take Twenty 'Too Darn Hot'|
David Shavreen reviews the latest presentation of Blenheim Concerts
On Sunday, 16th January, The Blenheim Music Circle was entertained once again by Take Twenty in a most attractive programme of Broadway melodies by some of the most inspired of American authors and composers, and what a delight it was to hear these talented artists recreate the songs which have survived the years with their pulsating energy and wit.
These days we hear so many curt rejections of American culture that it is good to be reminded how popular American culture was - so innovative and at the same time so sophisticated in its handling of music and text. The energy and vitality of the singing was a reflection of the forceful language of the lyrics which often looked with tongue in cheek at the oddities of human behaviour. The music responded with rhythms and harmonies that would have delighted Bach himself. The result was that the choir, enjoying the wit and the intelligence, delivered their words with a precision that made the text immediately intelligible to the audience, a rare achievement in most choral efforts.
However, this was not the only plus of the evening. The men, clearly outnumbered by the women of the choir, added to their vocal accomplishments an array of other talents, numbering among themselves composers, arrangers and instrumental wizards. We had performances from Dan Moriyama on the piano, the brothers Keith and Malcolm Abbs who performed brilliantly on the clarinet. and Dick Hobbs who slapped a magnificent bass.
The ladies in their turn displayed other talents still, but theirs were appropriately mimetic as they presented the characters they sang about in Too Darn Hot and the little known but admirably apt What Do We Do, We Fly by that vastly under-rated but extremely talented composer, Stephen Sondheim. Altogether, then, a most delightful afternoon.
The next concert in the Eighteenth Season of Blenheim Concerts will be given at 3.30 p.m. on Sunday, 13th March, in the Chiswick Catholic Centre. Verica Grmusa, Soprano, and Richard Shaw, Piano, will present a programme of songs by Britten, Dvorak, Rachmaninov and Verdi.
February 2, 2005