LIVE REVIEW: Rats, Cats And Birds, Todmorden Choral Society, Todmorden Central Methodist Church, 7th July 2018


This creature-themed summer concert had as its main feature a performance of a choral version of Robert Browning’s “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” in a setting by Parry, who reflected the Victorian mock-seriousness of Browning’s verse, also notable for its elaborately contrived rhymes. This featured soloists Patrick Smith and Daniel Bath, ably expressing the tension between the Pied Piper and the Mayor of Hamelin. The concert opened with a lively performance by Antony Brannick of Scarlatti’s “The Cat’s Fugue”, said to have been inspired by a cat on the keys. There were also appropriate poetry and story readings by Maddy Cullinane and Anthony Peter.

The second half opened with a piano duet for Antony Brannick and Jenny Sheldon: three pieces from Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals”: chickens, the cuckoo, and the tranquil swan. My favourite piece of the evening was Rossini’s “The Cats’ Duet”. We saw as well as heard Sally Deith and Emma Stafford as two rival prima donna cats.

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I came to Todmorden in 1979 with my record collection but have gradually become converted to live music