Monday, August 10, 2015

Sea & Land concert review

Sea & Land
Saturday 8 August 2015
Knox Church

A choral programme which differed from its more customary repertoire was presented by City Choir Dunedin in Knox Church on Saturday evening, with St Kilda Brass Band, pianist Sandra Crawshaw, mezzo-soprano Claire Barton and tenor Samuel Madden. Conducting was David Burchell.

The evening began with Songs of Sea and Land, a selection of seven New Zealand folk songs arranged for choir with brass accompaniment especially for this occasion by Auckland composer David Hamilton.

The part-singing for these seafaring songs was quite demanding, and at times the brass accompaniment was overwhelming, but Lullaby, with prominent lyrics over softer harmonic brass texture, was very effective and highlights were Darling Johnny O and My Man's Gone with strong solo sections from Barton.

An a capella medley of Afrikaans folk songs (arr. Burchell) was well delivered with generally good balance and nuance.

The popular work by Constant Lambert, The Rio Grande (1972), is a setting of text by Sachacerell Sitwell.

Written for brass band, piano and choir, the work combines ragtime, syncopation and Brazilian influences.

The combination includes a demanding role for the pianist and Crawshaw was in her element, pounding out the syncopation with strength and virtuosity.

Fervent brass sections interspersed the choral text and the percussionists had a ball with this thrilling repertoire.

Three showy band pieces complemented the British folk song choral items of the second half of the programme.

Familiar tunes came with A North Country Fantasie, strong solo tenor from Madden in Brigg Fair and an interesting a capella arrangement of I Love My Love (Gustav Holst).

More mezzo lines were highlights and the final rollicking Green Grow the Rushes O provided an exhilarating finish to the evening.

Review by Elizabeth Bouman in the ODT, Monday 10 August 2015.

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