Under the title God Save the King, the ensemble Le Concert Spirituel, conducted by Hervé Niquet, presented Handel’s Coronation Hymns and the Dettingen Te Deum.
Le Concert Spirituel is an ensemble from France in which a choir and an orchestra make music together under the direction of Hervé Niquet. It is named after the first French private concert society, founded in the 18th century.
France on the road in England
Le Concert Spirituel, today one of the best French ensembles on a national and international level, has specialised in the interpretation of French sacred music. But to do justice to the festival motto London, the musicians thematically moved to the British Isles. To do so, they turned to two monumental works by George Frideric Handel.
The hymns of Handel
Handel, originally from Hanover, spent a large part of his life in London, where he composed four Coronation Anthems to mark the coronation of George II and Queen Caroline. One of these four anthems is Zadok the Priest. It has been played at every British coronation ceremony since its premiere, most recently on 2 June 1953 at the coronation of Elizabeth II. As the theme tune of the Uefa Champions League, it is also regularly listened to by football enthusiasts.
In keeping with the character of an anthem, the choir sounded mighty. They were accompanied by an orchestra whose sound was characterised by fanfares and baroque oboes. In addition, there were the three other hymns of the work, My Heart Is Inditing, Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened and The King Shall Rejoice.
No wishes left unfulfilled
No less impressive was the interpretation of Dettingen Te Deum. Handel composed the work to celebrate the victory of the English and Hanoverians over the French at the Battle of Dettingen in the War of the Austrian Succession. The performance embodied a powerful musical expression of triumph.
The precise interplay between orchestra and choir was just as fascinating as the harmonious arrangement of the choir voices was touching. You could tell from Niquet’s body language that he demands absolutely everything from both himself and his musicians at a concert.
Tailor-made for Discovery
Since Niquet founded Le Concert Spirituel in 1987, he has shown great commitment to the training and professional integration of young musicians. He thus acts entirely in the spirit of Yehudi Menuhin. Niquet’s declared aim is also to pass on this passion and knowledge to the youngest, which he does in his home country through meetings at public rehearsals and with tailor-made workshops at schools.
Predestined for the Discovery Programme, this concert was open for a discussion of the piece and guided access behind the scenes as part of Teens go Concert. “I think this opportunity is great,” said Mark, one of the Discovery Programme participants. “With the introduction and backstage tour, I was able to get a much better idea of what to expect at the following concert.”
BASED ON AVS/JENNY STERCHI