of Litchfield performance - David J Brown
I really must give Philip Litchfield a big bouquet for his long-planned and much-thwarted performance of Psalm 23. The supporters’ clubs of the combined choirs were really out in force — which had the regrettable side-effect of the music being more the excuse for a social evening than the raison d’etre, at least for some of the audience. For those who came to listen rather than chat, a good performance of the Psalm was heard. Philip took it a good deal slower than the performance we are used to on the CBS record, mainly to cope with the church’s cavernous acoustic. This had the predictable sapping effect on the score s more vigorous passages, where detail was still lost despite the speed, but there are plenty of places where it can take a slower tempo, particularly the lovely fugue on ‘And thy loving kindness and mercy…’ towards the end.
Orchestral playing was variable, the violins as always having the toughest time and, being in this case semi-amateur, showing it on occasion. Nevertheless. John Grimshaw and I did not regret for a moment the round trip from London — particularly on one of the few really sunny days of that miserable spring. Psalm 23 is not easy — none of HB’s music is really easy —but it is perfectly feasible for good amateurs under a committed conductor. Now that the performing material is permanently available once more, and Philip Litchfield has blazed the trail, let us have many more performances of it.
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