Monday, July 11, 2016

Christmas Oratorio in December

Christmas Oratorio

Friday 16 December 2016, 7:30 pm
Dunedin Town Hall


DAVID BURCHELL, conductor
CITY CHOIR DUNEDIN
DUNEDIN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
SOLOISTS  Lois Johnston (soprano), Claire Barton (mezzo-soprano), Iain Tetley (tenor), Robert Tucker (bass)

JS Bach: Christmas Oratorio

Bach’s Christmas Oratorio is a cycle of cantatas unified by the Christmas story and was first performed over six days (the first three days of Christmas, New Year’s Day, Sunday after New Year and the Feast of the Epiphany) in 1734/5. Like the St. Matthew Passion and St. John Passion, an Evangelist narrates this work.
From the splendid opening chorus of the first cantata, to the final chorale and trumpet fanfare the music takes the listener through a range of emotions from praise, joy and adoration to rage, fear and, finally, glory.

Tickets are now on sale!

Tickets are also available from the Regent Theatre box office or from the DVML office at Forsyth Barr Stadium Gate J, or phone 0800 111 999

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Fine show; Ryan, Barton standouts

City Choir Dunedin. Photo credit Ian Thomson
Theresienmesse & Magnificat
Sunday 3 July 2016, Dunedin Town Hall

Two 18th-century choral works performed on Sunday afternoon by City Choir Dunedin under the direction of David Burchell with the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra gave the 85-strong group and four soloists a unique opportunity to shine.

The first half of the programme, C.P.E. Bach's Magnificat in D Major, is a slightly dated work, albeit one that the composer always regarded highly.

Tenor James Adams and bass Matthew Landreth seemed slightly tentative in this work; not so soprano Rebecca Ryan, substituting for Lois Johnston, who was unwell. Ryan turned in such a polished performance that it was difficult to believe that she had been called only a day earlier.

The pick of the soloists, though, was alto Claire Barton, whose duo with Adam seemed to lift his game, and her solo Suscepit Israel was a first-half highlight.

After the interval came Franz Joseph Haydn's Mass No. 12, Theresienmesse, the better of the two works. In it, the soloists work in unison with the choir rather than delivering long solos. This is an attractive technique, which has contributed to the popularity of the work since its debut in 1799.

Possibly because of this interweaving, the soloists all seemed more comfortable than in the Bach, with Ryan and Barton especially pleasing.

Throughout Theresienmesse, the choir gave a sterling performance, the hours of rehearsal showing in polished delivery.

The big disappointment was the thin attendance. The Dunedin Town Hall's acoustics work best with a larger audience and the concert would have been even better had more people made the effort to attend.

Review by Gillian Vine, The Star 7 July 2016.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Choir shows its strength

City Choir Dunedin. Photo credit Ian Thomson
Theresienmesse & Magnificat
Sunday 3 July 2016, Dunedin Town Hall

City Choir Dunedin, vocal soloists and members of the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra directed by David Burchell performed two choral works yesterday in the Dunedin Town Hall.

First up was C.P.E. Bach's The Magnificat in D Major H.772.

This son of the great J.S. Bach was influential in changing the established styles of music and although still very Baroque in character, the nine-section work shows signs of the lyricism to come, notably in the first soprano solo, Quia respexit, confidently delivered by Rebecca Ryan (Invercargill), standing in at very short notice for an indisposed Lois Johnston.

The choir presumably had warmed up but their opening Magnificat lacked the full-bodied impact required to launch this work assertively, although robust passages were evident later, particularly in the final passionate Gloria. Impressive secure melismatic definition from tenor James Adams in Quia fecit was a highlight, and Ryan's duo work with mezzo-soprano Claire Barton was well balanced in an ideal blend of voice tone and timbre. Bass soloist was Matthew Landreth.

Joseph Haydn composed six masses in the years 1796-1802, and Mass No 12 in B Flat "Theresienmesse'' had its first performance in 1799. Haydn was employed by the Esterhazy family for about 30 years, requiring him to regularly compose new works for the court musicians and visiting soloists.

This particular Mass lacks the usual horns and woodwinds, due apparently to a scarcity of those musicians at the time. Scoring then and yesterday was for two clarinets (an exciting new instrument for Haydn), two trumpets, timpani and strings plus chamber organ continuo.

Although clarity of diction in a large amateur choir will nearly always be wanting, yesterday's performers gave an authentic delivery, with good tempi and rhythmic energy, joyful contrasts and generally acceptable choral and instrumental contrapuntal passages. A powerful choral entry of the final Agnus Dei demonstrated the strength of the current City Choir Dunedin.

Review by Elizabeth Bouman, Otago Daily Times 4 July 2016.