Showing posts with label Haydn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Haydn. Show all posts

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Fine show; Ryan, Barton standouts

City Choir Dunedin. Photo credit Ian Thomson
Theresienmesse & Magnificat
Sunday 3 July 2016, Dunedin Town Hall

Two 18th-century choral works performed on Sunday afternoon by City Choir Dunedin under the direction of David Burchell with the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra gave the 85-strong group and four soloists a unique opportunity to shine.

The first half of the programme, C.P.E. Bach's Magnificat in D Major, is a slightly dated work, albeit one that the composer always regarded highly.

Tenor James Adams and bass Matthew Landreth seemed slightly tentative in this work; not so soprano Rebecca Ryan, substituting for Lois Johnston, who was unwell. Ryan turned in such a polished performance that it was difficult to believe that she had been called only a day earlier.

The pick of the soloists, though, was alto Claire Barton, whose duo with Adam seemed to lift his game, and her solo Suscepit Israel was a first-half highlight.

After the interval came Franz Joseph Haydn's Mass No. 12, Theresienmesse, the better of the two works. In it, the soloists work in unison with the choir rather than delivering long solos. This is an attractive technique, which has contributed to the popularity of the work since its debut in 1799.

Possibly because of this interweaving, the soloists all seemed more comfortable than in the Bach, with Ryan and Barton especially pleasing.

Throughout Theresienmesse, the choir gave a sterling performance, the hours of rehearsal showing in polished delivery.

The big disappointment was the thin attendance. The Dunedin Town Hall's acoustics work best with a larger audience and the concert would have been even better had more people made the effort to attend.

Review by Gillian Vine, The Star 7 July 2016.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Choir shows its strength

City Choir Dunedin. Photo credit Ian Thomson
Theresienmesse & Magnificat
Sunday 3 July 2016, Dunedin Town Hall

City Choir Dunedin, vocal soloists and members of the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra directed by David Burchell performed two choral works yesterday in the Dunedin Town Hall.

First up was C.P.E. Bach's The Magnificat in D Major H.772.

This son of the great J.S. Bach was influential in changing the established styles of music and although still very Baroque in character, the nine-section work shows signs of the lyricism to come, notably in the first soprano solo, Quia respexit, confidently delivered by Rebecca Ryan (Invercargill), standing in at very short notice for an indisposed Lois Johnston.

The choir presumably had warmed up but their opening Magnificat lacked the full-bodied impact required to launch this work assertively, although robust passages were evident later, particularly in the final passionate Gloria. Impressive secure melismatic definition from tenor James Adams in Quia fecit was a highlight, and Ryan's duo work with mezzo-soprano Claire Barton was well balanced in an ideal blend of voice tone and timbre. Bass soloist was Matthew Landreth.

Joseph Haydn composed six masses in the years 1796-1802, and Mass No 12 in B Flat "Theresienmesse'' had its first performance in 1799. Haydn was employed by the Esterhazy family for about 30 years, requiring him to regularly compose new works for the court musicians and visiting soloists.

This particular Mass lacks the usual horns and woodwinds, due apparently to a scarcity of those musicians at the time. Scoring then and yesterday was for two clarinets (an exciting new instrument for Haydn), two trumpets, timpani and strings plus chamber organ continuo.

Although clarity of diction in a large amateur choir will nearly always be wanting, yesterday's performers gave an authentic delivery, with good tempi and rhythmic energy, joyful contrasts and generally acceptable choral and instrumental contrapuntal passages. A powerful choral entry of the final Agnus Dei demonstrated the strength of the current City Choir Dunedin.

Review by Elizabeth Bouman, Otago Daily Times 4 July 2016.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Theresienmesse & Magnificat in July

Theresienmesse & Magnificat

Sunday 3 July 3:00 pm
Dunedin Town Hall

Soloists: Rebecca Ryan (soprano), Claire Barton (mezzo-soprano), James Adams (tenor), Matthew Landreth (bass)

FJ Haydn: Theresienmesse
CPE Bach: Magnificat

Haydn's Theresienmesse was composed late in his life, after his final ‘London’ symphonies, and a year after he completed both The Creation and the Missa in Angustiis or ‘Nelson Mass’, and it possesses similar qualities of tunefulness, variety, rhythmic energy, contrapuntal skill and colourful orchestration. It is a joyful festive work, written to celebrate the name-day of the wife of his patron Prince Esterhazy, and to demonstrate the high status of the Prince’s court at a time when Haydn was at the peak of his fame and creative powers.

Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bachʼs Magnificat is an extended setting of the Hymn of Mary, which is an integral part of the service of Vespers in both the Roman Catholic and Lutheran church. Composed for a festal occasion, this is an exuberant and tuneful work, with extended virtuosic and dramatic arias for each of the four soloists. It was his first major choral work, and was clearly inspired by his father Johann Sebastian’s setting of the same text; Bach returned to the work towards the end of his life, enhancing the orchestration and performing it several times.

Tickets are now on sale!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Divine performance, thunderous applause

Haydn's The Creation, NZSO and City Choir Dunedin, 3 September 2014, Dunedin Town Hall

Haydn’s The Creation presents a journey through a fantastic wonderland where man presides over an infinitely bountiful natural world, where love and luxury prevail equitably. It celebrates a miraculous creation devoid of lurking snakes and leaves the listener replete with unworldly exaltation.

In the Dunedin Town Hall, it was divinely performed to a full house by the NZSO, the City Choir Dunedin and soloists soprano Madeleine Pierard, tenor Robin Tritschler and bass Jonathan Lemalu under the inspired direction of Nicholas McGegan.

Although the choir’s part-singing sounded a little muddied at times when concentration was required, overall their sound was cohesive, dedicated and articulate with strong entries.

The solo voices melded beautifully together. All showed tremendous strength in softer passages with Lemalu’s tender tones being particularly pleasing.

Pierard was also notable for her delicacy and agility throughout her range. Their duet as Adam and Eve became as tender a love song as an oratorio can properly allow, enriched with the best of human quality. Tritschler’s tenor was clear with rich finesse.

The work rises gracefully, yet with great moment, out of silence. It relates the creation of life which, banishing gloom, evolves over the mythical seven days, divided into two parts, with a third devoted to Adam and Eve in Eden, to bloom with the simple rapture, joyful bliss, that the natural world inspires.

The playful word painting of water, birds, roaring lions and sinuous tigers were mostly successful.

While Lemalu’s depiction of lowly insects drew a laugh from the audience, the farmyard sounds of chickens and cattle failed to make their wit resound.

Although this long work sometimes tests the audience’s power of concentration, this performance was rewarded with thunderous stamping and prolonged applause. Contemporary cynicism was banished for the night.


Reviewed for the Otago Daily Times by Marian Poole, 4 September 2014.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Creation on Wednesday 3 September 2014

Haydn: The Creation
Wednesday 3 September 7:00pm, Dunedin Town Hall

Presented by the NZSO in association with ANZ PRIVATE BANK
JONATHAN LEMALU, bass-baritone

Haydn brings forth magnificence from silence as he retells the creation of the world, taking inspiration from the Bible’s The Book of Genesis and Milton’s Paradise Lost. Haydn once confessed, ‘I want to write a work that will give permanent fame to my name in the world’. With The Creation, he has certainly achieved this. Featuring some of the very best voices from New Zealand and abroad, the sensational talents of Madeleine Pierard and Jonathan Lemalu are joined by one of Britain’s leading young tenors, Robin Tritschler. With renowned early music specialist Nicholas McGegan leading the orchestra, this Creation will enchant.

Enjoy this extract from the magnificent work:

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...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A quick spruik...

I promise I'll do a write-up of our fantastic concert as soon as I can manage it.

But in the meanwhile, if you're interested, you can read my own experience of last night's Haydn Concert over at my blog, The Chorister:

The art of screwing up in concerts


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Haydn - Missa in Angustiis : 1 Kyrie

Haydn - Missa in Angustiis : 2 Gloria in excelsis Deo

Haydn - Missa in Angustiis : 3 Qui tollis peccata mundi

Haydn - Missa in Angustiis : 4 Quoniam tu solus sanctus

Haydn - Missa in Angustiis : 5 Credo in unum Deum

Haydn - Missa in Angustiis : 6 Et incarnatus est

Haydn - Missa in Angustiis : 7 Et resurrexit

Haydn - Missa in Angustiis : 8 Sanctus

Haydn - Missa in Angustiis : 9 Benedictus

Haydn - Missa in Angustiis : 10 Agnus Dei

Haydn - Missa in Angustiis : 11 Dona nobis pacem

Monday, July 6, 2009

1, 2, 3, 4 - We're City Choir, now hear us roar!

I really feel sorry for the poor people in Dunedin who didn't make it to either one of our concerts this weekend. Because they missed a rip snorter of a time. Not just one major work, but four. Not just one Important White Dead Guy, but four! Yeeee haaaaw!

In fact, I was going to title this blog post "Yeeee haaaaw!" but I don't think Purcell, with his very pretty, curly wig, would have approved. Then again, with his lame in-jokes and buckle shoes, maybe he would have. Who knows?

Purcell - Come, Ye Sons Of Art

One thing that is certain is that he would have approved mightily of our rendition of "Come Ye Sons Of Art" with which our "Anniversary Accolades" concert opened. We tuned our voices, our instruments played, and it was all just beautiful. I could see the audience grooving along to the music, bopping their heads in time to the beat, and as I was singing I couldn't help thinking "Yeah, baby! We're rocking this town!"


Haydn - Seasons (Spring)

On to the next dead white guy, it was time for us to nail Haydn's "Seasons" - the "Spring" part of it anyway! More in-jokes with parts of the score that sounded rather familiar to those of us who know other works by this composer - but hey, what's a bit of self-plagiarism between friends? It's nice to know that these guys weren't as dismally-minded as their rather staid press shots would lead one to suspect:


Personally, I think Haydn hated sopranos. I mean, anyone who writes top B Nasties for choir sopranos that run on for nearly two full bars is asking for a fight. I'd deck him if he were alive today. Lucky for him he's not. But my fellow sopranos did a magnificent job - page 53 wasn't the first, or the last, point in the night that I was tremendously proud of the women of City Choir. We took that B Nasty and told Haydn exactly what he could do with it!

Not only were we singing well, but the Sinfonia and our soloists were sounding wonderful. In particular, Stephen Chambers, our Tenor soloist, was worth a mention. He sounded glorious, his diction and tuning spot on. While all the soloists were great, I particularly enjoyed his performance.

Two works down, it's half time, we're looking good. Several very snarly passages are under our belts, and it is time to grab a quick gulp of water and do a quick dash to the loo before we're back on stage in our sardine-esque positions.

Handel - My Heart Is Inditing

We're on for Handel with the wonderful Michael Dawson at the helm. And not only does Michael do an incredibly job in his orchestral debut, guiding us through the not-exactly-easy twists and turns of Handel, but he is also obviously completely in control of the excellent Sinfonia.

A few words of thanks

While I'm talking about Michael, I also want to say something about the fact that David has been generous and thoughtful enough to give Michael this opportunity. Few choral directors would have shown the trust and respect that David has in Michael. He has been supportive of Michael not just in City Choir, but also in St Pauls Cathedral Choir.

It is so important not just to direct a Choir and Orchestra well, as David does, but also to raise the next generation to follow in your footsteps. I can't say enough about how important this job is, and how highly I think of David for giving this opportunity to Michael in such a respectful way. Both men were a credit to City Choir and to Dunedin this weekend. I think we are all very fortunate to have them.

Back to the concert

At this point in the concert we were getting our teeth into "My Heart Is Inditing" with Michael. From where I was standing, the diction was good and clear, the notes precise, and the choir and audience attentive. The movements worked well. I'll admit I'm a bit of a fan of Handel - more so than of Purcell especially, or of Haydn. Purcell always sounds a bit wrong to me - like it was written for different tuning, or something. Don't ask me what exactly - I'm no music expert - but know what I hear. The chords don't quite fit together, and the notes somehow don't feel quite confortable with one another. They rub against each other as enemies, not as friends.

Handel, on the other hand, always feels bright and correct to me, and it did last night. It sits well in the voice, and if we had a few issues with pitch, they were not noticed by the audience as far as I could see. Michael had good contact with the choir, and overall the movements came off well.


Mendelssohn - As The Hart Pants

On to the last of our four composers - Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn is often touted as a composer who writes particularly well for the voice, and "As The Hart Pants" is a good example of his work. He works up to the high notes for the sopranos rather than dumping them at you, and the body of the line sits comfortably within your range, so you never feels stressed or strained when singing his work. Maybe this is why I like Mendelssohn, even though I don't much like this particular translation of the biblical text.

"As The Hart Pants" started off beautifully with the alto entry, and the altos entered so well that I really wished I was back singing alto again, like when I first started singing in choirs! They just sounded so smooth, so rich, and so beautifully in tune. It was a pleasure to listen to. The first movement in particular was performed well overall, especially in the second concert, when I think we peformed it better than in any rehearsal. Which is as it should be.

I am also really pleased to say that our men nailed No 6 "The Lord Hath Commanded". They really did well, and I know this had been particularly difficult for them in rehearsal, requiring a four part split. They did so well in both concerts. Yay us!

The Mendelssohn ends with my favourite of all choral playtimes - a fugue. Yeee haaaaw! I love fugues! Just the way all the lines deviate and fit together and pull apart, then come back together again, translating the melody in different ways and recreating the theme in each choral line. A good fugue is musical magic. I'm not a music theorist, who could no doubt tell you about contrapuntal composition and fugal subjects, and all that highfalutin stuff. Not me. Instead I'll just tell you it was great fun to sing, and I'd love to do it all again today, and tomorrow, and the next day, because fugues are just awesome. Brain food for the soul.


Handel - The King Shall Rejoice

Finally, to end the concert, it was back to Handel with David conducting "The King Shall Rejoice", which includes my favourite movement - No. 2 "Exceeding Glad Shall He Be", which is Handel trying his hand at Bluegrass music. It really is - I'm not joking! My only grumble is I was a little disappointed that of the Coronation Anthems we weren't doing "Zadok The Priest", which is a fabulous piece and a great sing - maybe next time!

The "Alleluia" was our closing movement, and it did stay together, despite worries in rehearsal. All eyes were on the conductor - I was too nervous to even look down on my score in some moments! We followed closely and tightly, and the piece worked. Friends in the audience told me the work was wonderful, and that they enjoyed it thoroughly, as they had enjoyed the works of the other composers.

In conclusion...

Four Important Dead Guys. Four major works. Four anniversaries. Four accolades. We came, we sang, we did them justice. City Choir once again proved that we can take on a huge amount of music and make it work. I think my extra work outside of rehearsal paid off - I know that others in the choir studied the music at home too, and their work paid off too.

Now we have a week of doing nothing. No music for a week, and I'm off on holiday next weekend up to the north island for a few days, for a well-deserved rest.

Next concert isn't until September, with Haydn's Nelson Mass. It seems so long away, but right now all I can think is, Bring it on!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Anniversary Accolades

Purcell, Handel, Haydn and Mendelssohn.
Anniversary Accolades - Celebrating Classic Choral Composers
We are already rehearsing for this concert in July and it is going well. Working under David's direction is always fun! Note that all the choir midi learning files for this concert can now be accessed from the links panel on the right.