The Magic of Mozart, Handel and Mendelssohn
March 25th 7.30 p.m.
Chapel of St Augustine, Tonbridge School
Handel: Zadok the Priest
Mozart: Overture to The Magic Flute
Mendelssohn: Psalm 42
Mozart: ‘Great’ Mass in C minor
Who can fail to thrill to a choir singing the great coronation anthems written by Handel for King George II in 1727? Zadok starts loud and high, staying pretty much that way all the way through. The words come from the biblical account of the anointing of King Solomon and have been used at every English – then British – coronation since King Edgar was crowned in 973. Listen out for them as you watch the Coronation of King Charles III.
If Zadok the Priest has a firm foundation in historical fact, The Magic Flute definitely comes from fantasy. There have been many theories about hidden meanings, religious and political intrigue underpinning this work. Like Zadok the Priest, it also opens with strident chords, followed by hints of themes that portray some of the opera’s main characters. Listen carefully and you can pick out the priest Sarastro, as well as Prince Tamino and his flute amongst all the notes.
As the deer pants for streams of water is a translation of the opening of Psalm 42. Mendelssohn thought it his best sacred piece, and it sets quite a different pace and tone from our preceding pieces, worried and unsettling.
We close our concert with Mozart’s ‘Great’ Mass, a monumental work that was unfinished at his death, although since then various musicians have filled in the gaps. Performances require two sopranos, a tenor and a bass, together with double chorus and a large orchestra. It’s just as well that TPS’s numbers have returned to their pre-pandemic level, as they will all be needed for this solemn and wonderful work.