For the Fallen

 

Saturday 22 October 2011 - Kings College Chapel, Taunton

Dedication of ‘For the Fallen’ by Peter Leech to 40Cdo Royal Marines

Requiem by Josef Holub and Fauré Requiem

 

'Last night was truly a memorable experience.  Please pass on my congratulations to Peter for his colossal hard work and the splendid outcome.'

 

A FITTING TRIBUTE -Review submitted by Harold Mead

A small audience in King’s College Chapel last Saturday night nevertheless gave a standing ovation to the premiere by the Collegium Singers of a choral work dedicated to Taunton’s own 40 Commando.  “For the Fallen” was written and conducted by the choir’s director, Peter Leech.  He has a military family background, and the appalling losses in Helmand Province prompted him to write the work.

In addition to familiar sections from the Requiem Mass, the work contains settings of other lines, notably Laurence Binyon’s famous poem from which its title is taken.  The opening chorus ‘Britain Mourns’ with chilling dissonances and comforting harmonies, reflected both the horrors of war, and the nobility of spirit which can arise.  Binyon’s most famous lines (‘They shall grow not old’ etc.) appeared in a marvellous section combining those words, the motto of the Royal Marines (Per Mare, Per Terram) and the Latin absolution.  Soprano Fiona Chadwick excelled in this.  Audience involvement was appropriately ‘Abide With Me’, and this was followed by a pulsating, exciting setting of the Confutatis leading to a suitably tranquil final setting of the ‘In Paradisum’.  The choir sang superbly throughout, and this work will stand as a worthy tribute to those who have made the greatest sacrifice of all.

Earlier we heard a fine performance of the Faure Requiem – the choir’s intonation, attention to dynamics and note values was exemplary.  If I have any nitpicking criticism at all, it is that the legato line of some phrases was occasionally sacrificed to absolute precision.  Fabienne Brooksbank’s performance of the ‘Pie Jesu’ was truly lovely.

The concert opened with a beautifully sung unaccompanied Requiem of 1810 by one Josef Holub, from music literally found gathering dust in a bookshop in the Czech republic some years ago, by Peter.  This is a work which does not deserve 200 years of neglect and well done to Collegium for letting us hear it.

This was a fine concert, but the sparse audience showed the difficulties being faced by our local music groups as they strive to bring us the best in music – we should support them all in these hard times.  ‘Use it or lose it’ comes to mind.