Monday, November 22, 2010

Choir sang it beautifully

The performance on Saturday evening - well done everybody, that was great! Here is what the reviewer, Marian Poole, had to say (ODT, Monday 22 November 2010):

A capacity house to St Paul's on Saturday evening applauded an all-British twentieth-century programme directed by David Burchell, very enthusiastically.

There is a problem, however, with presenting wordy liturgical works as pieces of performance art. Musical cohesion in Burchell's setting of "Te Deum Laudamus" was, as the programme notes predicted, mired by words. Presented with obvious pride by City of Dunedin Choir and Southern Sinfonia Ensemble under the composer's baton, it becomes, as work of art, happily innocuous.

Likewise, Finzi's "Dies Natalis" sung excellently by David Hamilton, gets itself bogged down with words. Finzi's ethereal music transports the ear to celebrate that everyday miracle - the birth of new life - and again speaks more effectively than the words.

By way of admittedly unfair contrast, Vaughan Williams' "Valiant for Truth" successfully conveys a similar message - that of hope in adversity or wishful thinking - weaving musical airs with poetically economical words. The Choir sang it beautifully without accompaniment and with confidence.

Britten's "Saint Nicolas" gave David Hamilton another opportunity to display his devotion to opera-like drama. The work explores many musical languages from Royal Schools' tonality to something close to serialism, while remaining less than dissonant, thus overcoming some of the verbal shortcomings - for example "And leaping from his mother's womb [St Nicolas] cried: God be Glorified"  (- yeah, right!).  The work is chilling at the start and ends with auspicious lines from the choir. St Nicolas's birth becomes a street carnival sung by St Paul's Choristers. James Burchell cries God's glory with knowing eyes. While overall the work is uneven, the word painting in the sea storm, the prison scene and Nicolas' ascent to heaven was most successful. Special commendation goes to pianists John van Buskirk and Sandra Crawshaw, the organist Rachel Swindells, the percussion ensemble and, of course, the pickled boys.

1 comment:

Leta said...

Deborah received this message from Philippa Harris, Southern Sinfonia General Manager: "Congratulations on a really outstanding concert on Saturday! I went home thinking what a real treasure the Choir is and how valuable it is to Dunedin. A fabulous programme well performed – I hope you were well pleased with yourselves."

Now isn't that awesome? We rock!!!