Plymouth Philharmonic Choir at the Guildhall (review)

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There was surely no finer way to end the city’s Armed Forces Week, than with Plymouth Philharmonic Choir’s quite superb performance of Karl Jenkins’s The Armed Man.

Here the 135-strong voices, under the ever-dependable control of Christopher Fletcher, proved themselves equally effective in the most awe-inspiring climaxes, as in the chorale-like ‘Praise the Lord’ which so successfully concludes the work, where the large orchestra and its prominent percussion section are temporarily silent.

Conversely, the excellent ensemble, led by Mary Eade, provided a most sympathetic backdrop to the most moving part of the proceedings, the sublimely-delivered Benedictus.

Mezzo-soprano, Juliette Pochin, made a more telling contribution here, benefitting from the often thinly-scored accompaniments, after having appeared to lack projection in Andrew Carter’s Horizons, where the orchestra was often too strong for her.

It was, though, a shrewd bit of programme planning to precede The Armed Man with Carter’s quite different, and perhaps less-persuasive work overall, to heighten the impact of the former.

Walton’s Coronation Te Deum seemed an apt concert-opener, drawing a vigorous and spirited performance from all concerned.

Perhaps with slightly more strength in the top sopranos, the highest notes could have emerged as less forced, while the semi-chorus lacked a degree of cohesion, too.

Had the first half quite matched the second, no doubt the whole of the packed audience would have been on its feet at the end.


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