Even if it ultimately needed German composer, Otto Nicolai, with his Merry Wives of Windsor Overture, to get this Diamond Jubilee Proms Concert really going with a swing, come the end there was certainly more than enough fervour to go around.
Opening with Elgar’s somewhat idiosyncratic take on the National Anthem, this appeared to sit less comfortably with soloist, Juliette Pochin (mezzo-soprano), and while singing from the pulpit has clear visual advantages for the audience, the sense of oneness with the orchestra isn’t always so easy to achieve.
Walton’s Coronation March, and an especially-sensitive reading of Ronald Binge’s Elizabethan Serenade contrasted well with the choir’s vigorous singing in Handel’s The King Shall Rejoice, and Juliette’s unaccompanied Blow the Wind Southerly, though which rather begged comparison with the iconic version by the late Kathleen Ferrier.
‘Memories of you’, specially-composed by university student, Christopher Bevan, provided an effective interlude before the stirring Long Live Elizabeth, from Merrie England.
From then on in, it was virtual wall-to-wall patriotism, from a vigorous performance of Parry’s Blest Pair of Sirens, a finely-shaped reading of Elgar’s Nimrod from the orchestra, led by Malcolm Latchem, Parry’s Jerusalem and Elgar’s Land of Hope and Glory.
With the usual tireless contribution from conductor, Simon Ible, this excellent evening should long be remembered by the packed, flag-waving audience – at least until the next Jubilee comes around.
PHILIP R BUTTALL