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Review

Summer Evensong St Marys Extended Parish Choir

St Mary's Hampton Church Choir

St Marys Parish Church Hampton - 15 July 2018

Summer Evensong St Marys Extended Parish Choir

Pimms with Pimm

Summer Evensong

Music by Mendelsshöhn, Purcell, Stanford and Alain

St Mary’s Extended Parish Choir, St Mary’s Church, Hampton, 15th July

Review by Mark Aspen

A Broad Church.  Now, there is a term that we often hear applied to the Church of England.  However, pop along to St Mary’s at Hampton and you will find that in this case it applies to just one parish church. 

With its association with Georgian royalty, St Mary’s Hampton is arguably the most historic of parish churches in the Area.  Nevertheless, within all this tradition, St Mary’s late morning service each Sunday is an exuberant modern contemporary service of large and increasing popularity.   Last Sunday morning, the 250-strong congregation processed from the church to the River Thames for seven total-immersion baptisms.

The measure of the breath of worship tradition at St Mary’s came later in the day, with a traditional Anglican evensong.  Choir Director, David Pimm has gained a reputation amongst music lovers for his occasional series of requiems and oratorios at St Mary’s.  Last Sunday’s service was a traditional choral evensong, “the jewel in the crown of Anglican worship”. 

The Summer Evensong was parenthesised by two remarkable organ solos.  The introductory organ piece was Felix Mendelsshöhn’s Sonata IV for Organ.  When playing the Sonatas, Mendelsshöhn himself demanded a well-pitched organ, with a good standard of touch from the pedalboard and manuals.  He would have been very pleased to play at St Mary’s, whose organ, built by J.C.Bishop, was a gift from King William IV to commemorate his coronation, and was This superb instrument underwent extensive restoration work last summer. 

The final organ solo was Jehan Alain’s Litanies.  The composer was killed in action, aged 29, in June 1940 and posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre.  As a skilled motorcyclist in the French Army, he had been reconnoitring the enemy advance, when he came across a platoon of German soldiers.  He engaged them single-handed, and killed sixteen of the enemy troops before being brought down himself.  Composed three years before his death, Litanies is probably one of the best-known of Alain’s works, but is recognised as being fiendishly difficult to play. The motif itself goes through a remarkable progression, reappearing in overlapping forms.  The work’s impressively complex conclusion is hugely powerful and finally resolves in a note-crammed cornucopia.  

The 1831 Bishop organ, in all its restored glory, was put through its acrobatic paces, with great dexterity of hands and pedals by the outstanding visiting organist, Nat Keiller, an award-winning Royal College of Organists graduate, no stranger to the St Mary’s organ.  Keiller’s virtuosity, a highlight of the Summer Evensong, was amazing and quite exhausting even just watching and listening.

What better way, then, to round off the evening by decamping into the evening sunshine of the churchyard for a civilised glass or two of Pimm’s and a cream tea with delicious home-made scones and jam.

Read Mark Aspen’s full review at www.markaspen.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/summer-even

 

Photography courtesy of Thomas Forsythe. 


Summer Evensong Music by Mendelsshöhn, Purcell, S

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