Monday, July 6, 2009

What the reviewer said

Anniversary Accolades - Celebrating Classic Choral Composers, Saturday 4 July, reviewed by Marian Poole for the Otago Daily Times:

Mellow sounds from the Southern Sinfonia and the City of Dunedin Choir, with excellent highlights from soprano Lois Johnston, alto Claire Barton, tenor Stephen Chambers and bass baritone Andreas Hirt, directed by David Burchell and Michael Dawson, warmed a medium-sized audience at St Paul's on Saturday.

The programme celebrated the anniversaries of Purcell, Handel, Haydn and Felix Mendelssohn. It covered two hundred years of choral music and, as the programme notes inform us, the foundations of of the English sound.

While this demanding programme occasionally taxed the stamina of the choir, and while Barton seemed to be at less than her best, Johnston's strong confidence on the heights, Hirt's and Chambers' rich musicality and the excellent blend of all voices, and some good highlights from the woodwinds, brass and cellos, delivered some real pleasure.

Purcell's joyous welcome Come ye sons of art has a sweetness which lingers in the ear, but was unfortunately marred by a lack of vigour. The languorous invitation diluted the sense of impending fun.

Haydn's Spring taken from The Seasons was, despite the sense of joy in the words, a musically ordered, balanced and mild change of season at times frustratingly poles apart from Vivaldi's exuberance.

Handel's My Heart is Inditing, introducing Michael Dawson as conductor, was performed with good lilt. Dawson is commended for the precise performance from the choir. However, the words of the concluding exultation "Kings shall be thy nursing fathers" are a bit hard to swallow. If sensored out, we would be left with the more palatable scenario of the "King shall have pleasure in thy beauty".

Mendelssohn's As the Hart Pants gave ample opportunity to celebrate the excellent balance of solo voices with the choir. The closing work, Handel's The King Shall Rejoice, though a little perfunctory and occasionally muddied, made a successfully triumphant close.

Solists, choir and Southern Sinfonia under the excellent direction of Burchell and Dawson contributed to a delightful, homogeneous evening. Bravo.

No comments: