The Christ Church Cathedral Choir were singing at Sadler's Wells Theatre on 11th November, the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War for the première of 'Eternal Light: A Requiem' by Howard Goodall, which was commissioned for performance with the Rambert Dance Company. Reviews of the music and performance have been good, especially commending the singing of the Choir. To go to the Times Online review, click here
By Sarah Frater, Evening Standard 12.11.08
Saving grace: there are potent solos and duets in Eternal Light
In the past year or two, new Rambert productions have tended to feature digital-smash music and pump-shudder choreography. They are aimed at the young and evoke the club culture that young people favour, which is fine and dandy, except that when you see the company perform work that taps an older and more spiritual tradition, the dancers are transformed.
Artistic director Mark Baldwin has created a 50-minute work that is set to a new Requiem by Howard Goodall. Even Christians may not know the liturgical tradition but Baldwin and Goodall have brought these prayers for the dead to life, as well as providing consolation to those who mourn.
The piece is not without annoyances — such as the women’s white Lycra belled trousers. These hide their pretty feet and make their thighs look hefty — quite an achievement when you think that dancers are often slender to the point of skinny.
Another no-no was the bird costume, which might have affectingly evoked the flight of the soul, only it includes a giant beak that reminds you of a parakeet. “Who’s a pretty boy, then?” you can’t help thinking.
When I mention the borderline-camp crystal crucifixes that descend from the ceiling, some over-populated, under-choreographed group dances, and Baldwin’s programme note about getting the dancers to create “phrases” (what happened to choreography?), you may wonder where the three stars are coming from.
The answer is the potent solos and duets, and fine performances from the choirs of Christ Church Cathedral Oxford, and Finchley Children’s Music Group. The solo to the Litany (complaint) is powerful stuff. The dancer wears a vibrant green long dress and feathered head-dress, and moves crab-like on all fours. She is wonderfully attired but her movement conveys her struggle.
The male solo to Hymn is a vibrant, sling-shot piece, and the group dance to Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) conveys the human waste of war.
In an ensemble work, Jonathan Goddard stood out. The one-time dancer with Richard Alston is now with Rambert, and although not given a solo of his own, he stole every group scene.
Information: 0844 412 4300 www.sadlerswells.com
For more information also see: www.rambert.org.uk
The CD was recorded by EMI in April, with Christ Church Cathedral Choir and London Musici conducted by Stephen Darlington and EMI artists, Natasha Marsh, Alfie Boe and Christopher Maltman, and released on 22nd September
This was to be a Requiem for the living, a Requiem focusing on interrupted lives. Howard Goodall
Registered Charity Number: 1143423