REVIEW: The combined forces of the BBC Symphony Chorus and the BBC National Chorus of Wales buckled the stage with… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
The Prickle (@ThePrickle) July 27, 2022
Though the Royal Albert Hall was only about half-full, the combined forces of the BBC Symphony Chorus and the BBC National Chorus of Wales buckled the stage with nigh-on two hundred singers. The BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBC NOW) blazed through Vaughan Williams’ startling first symphony, entitled A Sea Symphony (1910), in a gripping performance led by celebrated conductor Andrew Manze, beginning with the ground-shaking command, “Behold the sea!”
Of course, Vaughan Williams’ hour-long work, based on the poetry of Walt Whitman, is full of light and shade, completely imbued by the two soloists, soprano Elizabeth Llewellyn and baritone Jacques Imbrailo. A last-minute replacement for indisposed bass-baritone Andrew Foster-Williams, Imbrailo’s soaring, operatic voice brought home both the drama and the subtlety of Vaughan Williams’ unusual text-setting. Perhaps even more amazing, the gigantic chorus still gave us crystal-clear text and completed unified dynamics throughout, testament to the conducting of Manze and both chorus-masters (Neil Ferris, Adrian Partington).
The first half showcased BBC NOW’s string section in Grace Williams’ short Sea Sketches (1944), with a hearty sound that at times even bordered on ugliness from the passion exerted. In a first performance at the Proms, Doreen Carwithen’s brief Bishop Rock Overture (1952) allowed the full orchestra to gather together in a display of brilliantly characterful sea-themed drama.
A momentous Prom –– ill-advisedly ambitious, some might even argue –– but pulled off with flawless togetherness and skill.
🌊💙 Thank you to all who joined us for tonight’s celebration of the sea. Andrew Manze conducted the massed BBC force… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…—
BBC Proms (@bbcproms) July 27, 2022
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