Monday, April 24, 2023

Highlights shine


Alleluia! Music for Eastertide

Saturday 22 April 2023, Knox Church

A full house turned out for the Easter celebration staged by City Choir Dunedin with members of the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra and guest soloists led by David Burchell at Knox Church on Saturday night.

Despite their numbers being depleted somewhat by a fourth wave of Covid-19, the choir put in a sturdy performance of a technically very challenging programme. The twists, turns and vocal agility demanded by baroque music was designed to be challenging even for professional voices.

Part of the excitement of antiphonal music is the inherent risk of becoming a confused and turgid noise. This risk was sadly realised on several occasions. However, there were enough highlights to win the performers and the performance enthusiastic applause.

Soloist soprano Caroline Burchell has a growing creditable repertoire and shows great agility particularly in the solo parts of Mozart’s Regina Coeli. While minced words were all too frequently the cost of this agility, Burchell’s voice and her ease of presentation should take her far.

Mezzo-soprano Erin Connelly-Whyte has a beautiful, warm voice. Her duet with Burchell in Bach’s Christ lag in Todes Banden showed her power in harmonising. Connelly-Whyte’s solo in Telemann’s Zwei Junger highlighted her lyric strength.

Tenor Brendan Shanks showed some uncertainty but a capacity for a powerful presentation particularly in his aria from Bach’s Christ lag.

Bass Edward Smith also showed the weaknesses of a new performer facing a difficult work but overall put up a powerful performance.

David Burchell’s composition O Sons and Daughters proved to be one of those moments in which the choir was severely stretched. The work displays some allegiance to Finzi’s rhythmic contrivances and is, overall, a very accessible work. Vocal articulation and momentum suffered but both were reprieved by a strong finish.

Review by Marian Poole, Otago Daily Times, 24 April 2023

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