Spectacular British choral Prom: a programme of classic twentieth-century British music performed by two large choruses, the London Brass and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Tadaaki Otaka. The stars of this evening were the BBC Symphony Chorus and the BBC National Chorus of Wales; the choral preparation was excellent plus the conducting was sympathetic resulting in excellent choral unison.
A fellow promenader, I believe an ex-dubbing mixer, remarked that the “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” is his favourite British work for strings. That provoked a discussion amongst a small group of us but generally we agreed. The same promenader’s view of Ireland’s “These Things Shall Be” was that it is a turkey though there was less agreement on this. Both pieces received warm and understanding performances.
Delius’ “The Walk to the Paradise Garden” was a favourite of Prom audiences of a bygone era, Beecham was one champion. It’s not entirely strings but I’d prefer it to the “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” for my British favourite. Fortunately we heard both and don’t have to choose. It was great to hear a clear, dreamy and modern interpretation of this classic piece; it plays well in the Albert Hall acoustic.
Walton’s dramatic Belshazzar’s Feast received a masterful performance. Great choral unison and clarity, great soloist, great orchestral virtuosity and ensemble with high drama, including nicely-balanced off-stage brass. I was listening with my eyes closed and not expecting the entry off-stage but it was very clearly above me. As with the Boulez “Anthèmes 2” last week, which featured electronic music from the gallery, I’m now completely convinced that it’s quite possible to hear height as well as location in the horizontal plane. Now when will Radio 3 relays include height? By the look of the microphone arrays already deployed, I suspect they could already if they wished to...
Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Ireland: These Things Shall Be
Delius: The Walk to the Paradise Garden
Walton: Belshazzar's Feast
Jonathan Lemalu baritone, bass-baritone
BBC Symphony Chorus
BBC National Chorus of Wales
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Tadaaki Otaka, conductor