Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Review of Nelson Mass

Elizabeth Bouman wrote a very favourable review of the Nelson Mass performance, in the Dunedin Town Hall on Saturday 12 September, by City of Dunedin Choir, Southern Sinfonia, soloists and conductor Simon Over. (See ODT, Monday 14 September 2009). Marian Poole reviewed the same concert for the Listener.

The Glory of Haydn, Otago Daily Times Saturday 12 September 2009, reviewed by Elizabeth Bouman:

Southern Sinfonia and City of Dunedin Choir, British conductor Simon Over and four of New Zealand's top young soloists celebrated the 200th anniversary of Haydn's death in a Glory of Haydn Concert in the Dunedin Town Hall last Saturday evening. The concert was well supported and the audience was full of praise for the Haydn work.

...Missa in Angustii (Lord Nelson Mass) is one of Haydn's grandest works, and Over certainly had the orchestra and particularly the hundred-voice choir fired up to deliver a magnificently vibrant 45-minute performance.

The choir, under musical director David Burchell, was on a decidedly homogeneous high.

The performance was gilded by clear top soprano intonation and excellent attention to dynamic shaping, with vowels which swell noticeably, not just occasionally but throughout.

Soprano Rebecca Ryan, an Otago graduate, has returned from working as a singer in Europe.

The beauty in her voice was particularly apparent in the Benedictus, and intelligence and passion in text interpretation shone throughout, with exquisitely refined shaping in long phrases

Baritone Jared Holt, although lacking weight at his lowest register, displayed extraordinary breath capacity in negotiating the long melismatic phrases which challenge soloists in this work.

Mezzo-soprano soloist Claire Barton and tenor James Rodgers also delivered with well-defined phrasing and articulation.

Equal balance of soloists also contributed to the outstanding success of this Haydn celebration.

Glory be, New Zealand Listener September 26-October 2 2009 Vol 220 No 3620, reviewed by Marian Poole:

Missa in Angustii roused the house at Dunedin Town Hall in Glory of Haydn, the Southern Sinfonia's final performance of the season. Otherwise known as the Lord Nelson and the Imperial, Haydn's mass, written in the same year Nelson routed Napoleon's fleet, is a call to "bring it on". Right from the stirring rendition of Kyrie Eleison, the City of Dunedin Choir, under the baton of Simon Over, were well on their way to winning. Fugues and offset entries in Quoniam tu Solis, the wordy Credo and Dona nobis pacem were executed with clarity and conviction, notably in the upper registers. Choir director David Burchell can be commended for their well-honed performance.

New Zealand-born soloists Rebecca Ryan (soprano), Claire Barton (alto), James Rodgers (tenor) and Jared Holt (bass) were equally well-versed, but their performance was marred by an imbalance between them and the Sinfonia. Most disadvantaged were Barton and Holt, whereas the higher voices of Ryan and Rodgers cut through successfully.

However, the glorious blend of female voices in Agnus Dei, male voices in Gloria and the brief but significantly catchy melodies and harmonies of Domine Deus overcame these shortcomings...

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