Monday, August 11, 2008

Performances give large audience plenty to relish

Carmina Burana, Dunedin Town Hall, Saturday 9 August 2008

Review for the Otago Daily Times by Elizabeth Bouman

"Dunedin Town Hall was packed on Saturday night with the largest audience in 15 years for a Southern Sinfonia subscription concert. Performing with the orchestra, conducted by Werner Andreas Albert, were City of Dunedin Choir, St Paul’s choristers, Southern Children’s Youth Choir and three guest soloists.

The evening began with a Shostakovich work Pirogov - the commissioned arrangement by Wellington composer John Spathas for the 2004 Athens Olympics opening ceremony. A rather long build-up suddenly boiled with anticipation, to culminate as the Olympic flame ignites the cauldron, and the Sinfonia succeeded in portraying tension and excitement for these climactic passages.

Respighi’s orchestration of Cinq Etudes-Tableaux Orch, by Rachmaninov, created a highly programmatic set of of pieces traversing a kaleidoscope of musical images. This demanding work occasionally lost a little evenness and intonation, but nevertheless it was a convincing colourful portrayal of five contrasting “scenes”.

Carl Orff’s robust cantata Carmina Burana filled the second half of the programme with big sound and pace. This 1937 work has ancient lyrical text, outrageously pagan and sensual in content, with many declamatory passages demanding spirited delivery from all. On Saturday over 200 performers triumphed with vigour and energy. A particularly zealous men’s chorus (the strongest in this choir for some time) maintained pace and drive throughout - perhaps the meaningful text appealed? Other sections caught the atmosphere and the work never flagged.

Jared Holt, one of this country’s best young singers, displayed great versatility, slipping effortlessly from his lyrical baritone to stunning upper register tenor resonance, plus falsetto and counter-tenor quality as required for Dies nox et omnia. Wellington soprano Barbara Graham (2008 Dame Malvina Major emerging artist) will go far with her elegant delivery, purity of tone and intonation. Her Amor volat undique balanced perfectly with the children, who phrased and enunciated clearly, directed by David Burchell, Anthony Richie and Holly Mathieson. International tenor New Zealander John Murray was also in excellent voice."

Wow, wasn't that an awesome performance! What a thrill to be part of such a huge production. The audience clearly loved it - it seemed they were not going to let us go home! Our heart-felt thanks to David, Anthony and Holly for so expertly preparing the singers for Werner's final moulding for the performance. Good on you, men! You did us proud.

1 comment:

AlanGirvan said...

For anyone who will be at the Committee meeting on Wed - the nice comments about the men are an added reason to support a suggestion that the Alto Rhapsody by Brahms (which is for Alto Soloist, Mens Choir and orchestra) should be done by our choir sooner rather than later. There is a nice work by Brahms for Womens chorus which the women of our choir would love singing in the same concert.