Last Night of the Proms - conducted by José Aparicio
St John’s Cathedral, Napier, Friday 27 October 2017
Napier Civic Choir, Hawke’s Bay Orchestra and Soloists
Soprano Lilia Carpinelli
Tenor Matthew Reardon
Reviewed by Peter Williams
This iconic pattern of the last night of the annual Henry Wood Promenade Concerts in the Royal Albert Hall, London, has transported easily to the furthest reaches of the English-speaking world – admirably proved in the gaily flag bedecked Cathedral for the large audience who reveled more and more as the evening progressed. Music Director José Aparicio had a ball as he guided all the musicians through a complex range of music, and easily involved everyone present in the traditional songs at the climax of the programme. The audience were willingly on their feet to join with the choir and soloists in the traditional songs – Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory, Jerusalem and finally God Save the Queen. They obviously loved it all and the audience and all the musicians together made a mighty sound. Choir, soloists and orchestra all contributed to the early part of the programme with the large orchestra of close to sixty players the busiest, as they played separate items and provided all the accompaniments. Russian composer Dimitri Shostakovich’s Festive Overture Op 96 made the ideal start to the programme, with later a spectacular performance of Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance Op 46 No 8 with its explosive opening and the lovely wind playing in the quieter middle section. A poignant moment was when José Aparicio introduced the orchestral item Pasodoble, composed by his father. The orchestra gave excellent support to both the choir and soloists but sometimes the brass and percussion unfortunately completely overshadowed the singing. The choir was in fine voice, combining with the soloists in several items and impressing with the expressiveness of their singing of the chorus from Verdi’s Nabucco, the Russian language in the Polovtsian Dances by Borodin, the raw emotion expressed in the chorus from Orff’s Carmina Burana and they certainly let rip in the traditional songs at the end. Soprano Lilia Carpinelli and tenor Matthew Reardon provided plenty of outstanding highlights – in the Brindisi from Verdi’s La Traviata and the eloquently poised presentation of the love duet from Pucini’s Madam Butterfly. The brilliance of the coloratura runs in Carpinelli’s singing, such as in Una voce poco fa from The Barber of Seville by Rossini, completely captivated the audience. The clear, flowing tone Reardon projected in his singing, particularly in Donizetti’s Una furtive lagrima, brought the arias brilliantly to life. I feel sure that the word was quickly spread, resulting in an even larger audience for the repeat performance two days later.