In a weekend of celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday, Truro Choral Society was not going to miss the opportunity to contribute, and this summer concert began with probably the finest of all ceremonial pieces – Parry’s I Was Glad, with the eight-part choir plus cathedral organ sending majestic echoes round the vaulting. On a more intimate scale, members of Truro School Chamber Orchestra excelled in Bach’s second Brandenburg Concerto, with bubbling high spirits in the outer movements contrasted with the graceful central andante. The solo group — Martha Prindl (violin), Lottie Brenton and Molly Carleston (oboes) and Katie Shaw (piccolo) — were outstanding. I had doubted whether there could be a viable substitute for the specified clarino trumpet, but am pleased to report that the piccolo in all its crazy glory reached even the very back of the West Gallery. And ice creams were available in the interval — a splendid innovation!
Some choral purists dismiss John Rutter’s writing as “easy listening” — perhaps rightly in the case of some of the shorter works, but his Requiem is certainly not a soft option for singers in its challenging complexity and contrasts of light and dark. Martin Palmer’s direction and the choir’s flexibility caught the marvellous transition of the opening, from ominous agitation to the magical “earworm” main melody (once heard, never forgotten).
Luke Bond’s sensitive organ playing was a notable feature, as was the contribution of all the instrumentalists – Barbara Degener’s cello in “Out of the deep” perfectly mirroring the hushed choral entry. The central Sanctus was radiant with pealing bells — Joseph O’Berry on piano and James Robinson somehow managing to play glockenspiel and timpani simultaneously. The 23rd Psalm setting was a pastoral delight with Tamsin Carleston’s oboe obbligato, and Katie Shaw’s flute phrasing was perfect, particularly well matched with soprano Cheryl Rosevear in her expressive Pie Jesu and Lux Aeterna.
It may be a relatively short work, but this Requiem doesn’t grant much rest for the chorus — they have to sing almost continually. They coped heroically with all its demands, building up tension in Agnus Dei, lyrical in Psalm 23, modulating marvellously towards the inevitable reprise of the big tune at the end. Well done to Palmer for such thorough preparation and direction, and huge thanks to TCS for a moving and memorable performance.