Autumn (Remembrance Sunday) concert
November 12th 2017 in the Assembly Hall
Handel – Coronation Anthems nos 1 and 2
Brahms – Piano Concerto no 2 with Danny Driver (piano)
Dvořák – Mass in D
Click on image to view programme,
Critique of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Choral Society Concert on Sunday 12th November 2017
Once again, a large audience attended the Royal Tunbridge Wells Choral Society’s Remembrance Day concert at the Assembly Hall this afternoon, with conductor Rebecca Miller and the London based Salomon Orchestra led by Tara Persaud.
The programme commenced with Handel’s Coronation Anthem no.2 “Let Thy Hand be Strengthened”. The clarity of part writing, with flowing melisma and attention not only to musical detail but also to vocal articulation and diction was evident from the start. This is an anthem of jubilation, written to be performed at Westminster Abbey for the coronation of George II, and throughout its relatively short duration the choir and orchestra delivered an excellent rendition.
Brahms’ Piano Concerto no.2 was performed with much sensitivity, the piano and orchestra displaying the great degree of Romanticism which pervades the whole work. Guest soloist Danny Driver explored the piano’s depths of sonorities, dynamics and range which he employed with outstanding pianistic technique and dexterity. The grand dramatic scale of this work was expertly expressed. Dynamic contrasts were beautifully controlled, with devastatingly effective pianissimo in the Andante movement. Rebecca Miller made much use of the delicate rubato and teased out every nuance that was on offer. This was indeed a work of passion which led the audience to all the extremes of human emotion.
Handel’s Coronation Anthem no 1, the better known “Zadok the Priest” set the tone for the second half of the concert, with powerful use of voices and orchestra, and clear vocal runs from the choir.
The afternoon culminated in Dvorak’s Mass in D, first performed in England in 1893 at the Crystal Palace. Clear, lucid part singing with good intonation and musical phrasing all combined in the contrasting six movements of this delightful Czech Latin Mass. The choir explored the luscious intricate harmonic rhythms to excellent effect. This is a demanding work which requires a wide vocal range and ability to pitch complicated intervals, and the singers rose to the occasion with confidence, ably accompanied by an empathic orchestra. Subtle use of gradation of dynamics and tone helped to create the appropriate atmosphere of remembrance.
Rebecca Miller is, as always, a wonderful conductor, extracting every subtlety and nuance from both choir and orchestra. In total control throughout, she managed to allow the music to express itself from moments of extreme passion through to those of quiet reflection. In her own words, “putting on a concert like this looks so easy”, and that of course is the art of the true professional. The RTWCS has worked very hard to produce another high calibre, thoroughly enjoyable performance, ably supported by their associate conductor Jamie Sperling and rehearsal accompanist Craig Hudson. Many congratulations to all involved.