fbpx
Review from the Times: Berlioz Te Deum at the Royal Festival Hall

News Archives

News Return To All News

DovePFL“Nine hundred and seventy concerts into its career, The Bach Choir sounds crisp and keen, as nimble as a chorus half its size but with the requisite firepower for a work as brashly opulent as Berlioz’s Te Deum.”

Anna Picard, writing in The Times reviewed our concert with the Philharmonia and The Young Singers on Tuesday 10 June at the Royal Festival Hall.

The concert featured Berlioz’ Te Deum alongside the world premiere of a new commission by Jonathan Dove, Psalms for Leo, written in commemoration of Leopold de Rothschild (1927 – 2012), past singer and Chairman of the choir. The ladies of The Bach Choir were also joined by Catherine Wyn-Rogers, who was herself once a member of the Choir, for Debussy’s La damoiselle élue, whilst assistant conductor and  international organist Philip Scriven played the solo organ part in Dupré’s dazzling showpiece, Cortège et Litanie.

The review can be found on The Times website via the link here, or read below:

“Nine hundred and seventy concerts into its career, The Bach Choir sounds crisp and keen, as nimble as a chorus half its size but with the requisite firepower for a work as brashly opulent as Berlioz’s Te Deum. In this gargantuan curiosity and the world premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Psalms for Leo (composed in memory of Leopold de Rothschild, who sang in the choir for 50 years) there was added vocal freshness and sweetness from The Young Singers, a choir of primary school children from the Tri-Borough Music Hub, and boy trebles from the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School.

As Dove’s ecstatic figures for strings and double-reed danced through the opening bars of Psalm 148 and the first Hal’luyah of the Hebrew text took flight, the excitement was palpable. Dove’s sotto voce syncopations, dewy flutes, swerving children’s descants and thrilling exclamation point chords for brass make Psalms for Leo a brilliant retort to Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. And what better musical education than singing with the Philharmonia and listening to the gleaming phrases of the tenor soloist Benjamin Hulett in the Berlioz and the musky supplications of the mezzo-soprano Catherine Wyn-Rogers in Debussy’s La damoiselle élue?

Under David Hill the Philharmonia played with verve and imagination, much of it their own. A drop in temperature between the two great choral numbers was inevitable. Hill is one of Britain’s leading choral conductors but the skills required to animate a work as weak as Marcel Dupré’s Cortège et Litanie are different. Debussy, too, requires more than precision. Berlioz, in his verdant solos for clarinet and oboe and his bold antiphonal chords, supplies more than enough fantasy on the page. Here, Hill’s choirs blazed in triumph.”