Review: King's Lynn Festival Chorus
King's Lynn Festival Chorus, Rachmaninov 'The All-Night Vigil', St Nicholas' Chapel
I welcomed The King’s Lynn Festival Chorus’s choice of work to perform at this year’s King’s Lynn Festival as I didn’t know it well, and, apparently Rachmaninov’s ‘All-Night Vigil’ Op. 37 was the composer’s own favourite composition.
He even left instructions for the fifth section of the piece, (The Nunc Dimittis), to be sung at his funeral.
My desire to become more familiar with the piece was rewarded with a beautifully performed, and sensitive performance of this unaccompanied Choral masterpiece, directed with authority and subtlety by popular conductor Tom Appleton.
A full audience also appreciated its gravity and grandeur.
The ‘All-Night Vigil’ (sometimes wrongly called ‘The Vespers’), contains 15 movements, and the prayers and psalms set comprise the Ordinary of the full service of the Russian Orthodox Church usually celebrated on Sundays, Feasts and Saints’ days.
The work was first performed in 1915, not in a church, and was never performed liturgically – probably because of the difficulties involved in performance.
The Festival Chorus seemed to make light of the challenges, such as the complexity of the part writing and range of voices needed, (including a notoriously low B flat for the Basses in The Nunc Dimittis).
Having enjoyed this concert immensely (the solo singing was also excellent) I will certainly revisit the piece, a leading one in the Russian Orthodox Church, in the near future, and in the meantime encourage anyone interested in joining the choir to immediately visit: www.kingslynnfestivalchorus.co.uk