It spoke well for the C.U.M.S. under new management that the performance of Berlioz’ “Childhood of Christ” was as good as it was. To present the work so early in the year (with so little time to rehearse) was in itself an ambitious act. The soloists (principally Kathleen Hoff, Kenneth Bowen, John Noble and John Walker) were impeccable, and the chorus, on the whole, confident. Allen Percival, conducting, managed to elicit—in spite of orchestral skids on one or two dangerous corners—a lilt and freshness from the work that made the evening delightful.
I was glad to find the music treated as a whole with the tempi adopted in relation to their context and not from pre-conceived interpretations of individual sections. In particular, the chorus of shepherds, which follows a longish and easy-going orchestral ramble, was taken faster than I remember hearing it before, and I was extremely glad. A dramatic composer can only be fairly interpreted by a dramatically-sensitive artist.