Showing posts with label mozart. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mozart. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Contrasting but complementary works beautifully performed

Mozart Requiem
Saturday 26 November 2022, Knox Church

The vaulted roof and lovely acoustics of Knox Church were the perfect setting for City Choir Dunedin's performance of two contrasting, but complementary choral works - Mozart's Requiem and Forrest's the breath of life.

Conducted by David Burchell, the choir was joined by an excellent group of soloists in Caroline Burchell (soprano), Claire Barton (mezzo-soprano), Scott Bezett (tenor), and Edward Smith (bass), with the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, and Valerie Xiang (organ) and Sandra Crawshaw (piano) in sterling support.

The concert began with the New Zealand première of Forrest's 2019 atmospheric work the breath of life, portraying the beauty, yet brevity, of human life. From the opening moments of sibilant breathing from the choir, the piece maintains a contemplative tone throughout, melding voices, orchestra, piano, and digital sounds together in a satisfying whole.

The full forces of choir, orchestra and soloists then marshalled under Burchell's direction in a vigorous, nicely balanced performance of Mozart's Requiem.

In a work filled with moments of drama and poignancy, the choir highlights for this reviewer were the opening Requiem, Kyrie, Dies Irae, the beautiful Lacrimosa, and the Agnus Dei. Gentle moments were beautifully rendered, and some fiendishly quick fugue passages were tackled with aplomb.

The soloists were superb in solo passages and worked well together to blend their voices in the Tuba mirum, Recordare, and Benedictus movements, with Caroline Burchell's clear soprano soaring beautifully above.

The DSO players were excellent in support, adding form and colour to a wonderful musical experience. Bravo!

Review by Brenda Harwood, The Star, 1 December 2022.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Strong performance of popular requiem

Mozart Requiem
Saturday 26 November 2022, Knox Church

Mozart's Requiem is popular repertoire for large choirs, writes Elizabeth Bouman.

Last Saturday evening this famous requiem was sung in Knox Church by City Choir Dunedin accompanied by members of the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, Sandra Crawshaw (piano), Valerie Xiang (organ) and soloists Caroline Burchell (soprano), Claire Barton (alto), Scott Bezett (tenor) and Edward Smith (bass).

Requiem is a funeral mass, written by Mozart in the weeks before his own death. He left it unfinished, and historians like to believe he knew he was nearing the end of his own life, despite it being a commissioned work. Scored for a baroque-sized orchestra, choir and four soloists, it follows the traditional eight section sequence, with Latin text of mourning and remembrance.

Conductor David Burchell choose a good forward-moving tempo, achieving a strong performance overall.

Lacrimosa and Sanctus were highlights.

Also on the programme was a contemporary choral (2019) work, the breath of life, by American Dan Forrest (1978-).

Audience members with a programme and time to read the descriptive notes beforehand listened with an extra dimension. But without knowledge of text or theme the listener could find the work rather repetitive, swamped with thick harmonies and inexplicable orchestral statements and textures.

Perhaps a narrator between movements could have charted events, as the evocative soundscape outlined life from the miracle of birth to the bereavement of death.

Dramatic script from the Bible, classic and modern poetry set sensitive text, but not always clearly enunciated by the 70-strong choir.

The entire work was sensual and imaginative with changing colours and moods throughout, from the breathy opening, emotive cello lyricism, choral harmony climaxing the miracle of birth, life experiences, the fading of life and mourning of death.

This was the first New Zealand performance of the breath of life, and I felt Dunedin’s musicians gave a commendable performance.

Review by Elizabeth Bouman, Otago Daily Times, 28 November 2022.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Schubert and Mozart glorious with Sinfonia and vocalists

Mozart Requiem

Saturday 28 March 2015
Knox Church

Soloists: soprano Lois Johnston, mezzo-soprano Claire Barton, tenor Matthew Wilson and baritone Robert Tucker

City Choir Dunedin, Southern Sinfonia
Conductor David Burchell

City Choir Dunedin, Southern Sinfonia invited soloists and organist Simon Mace presented two choral masterworks in Knox Church on Saturday evening, conducted by David Burchell.

The choir of more than 100 voices was in excellent form, with reasonable numbers in bass and tenor, and a noticeable presence of younger singers in all sections, promising a healthy future for this city choir.

In 1816 Franz Schubert wrote an oratorio in 12 short movements, focusing on the anguish of Mary, the Mother of Christ. Stabat Mater (D. 383) is a beautiful assemblage of Schubert minor keys, and the performance achieved tragic tones where appropriate to match the German text, with some striking contrasts and impressive dynamics.

Woodwind passages were particularly sensitive, often in tandem with a vocalist, as in Ach, was hatten wir empfunden for oboe and tenor. Soloists were Robert Tucker (baritone), Matthew Wilson (tenor) and Lois Johnston (soprano) whose delivery achieved fitting dominance in solo passages, such as "... together at the Last Judgement", where her final phrase rose triumphantly to soar above choir and instrumentalists.

Mozart's health was failing as he embarked on composing a requiem Mass.

History records interesting "facts and fiction" surrounding the work's editing and completion by others, and it survives as the great Requiem Mass in D minor K. 626. Saturday night's performance was a celebration of the legacy of beautiful music left to the world by Mozart.

Claire Barton (mezzo-soprano) joined the soloists, and quartet passages achieved good balance generally, with text conveying conviction and empathy.

Burchell drew inspirational dynamics with impressive contrasts from his choir and musicians. Passionate shading for Lacrymosa and massive jubilant tone for Sanctus were indeed highlights, filling the packed church venue with glorious sound.

Review by Elizabeth Bouman for the ODT, Monday 30 March 2015.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Strong performance displays city's talent

Mozart's Mass in C demands large forces - a double choir formed by City Choir Dunedin and the Southern Youth Choir; two sopranos, Emma Fraser and Anna Leese; tenor Benjamin Madden, bass Joel Amosa, organist Simon Mace and the Southern Sinfonia orchestra.

Southern Sinfonia, City Choir Dunedin 
Dunedin Town Hall 
Saturday, September 21 

It is a source of great pride that all of this performance's considerable talents originated or received significant formative training in Dunedin. Under the direction of Englishman Simon Over, the combined musicality and technical prowess created a hugely successful evening.

Fraser's bright and vibrant soprano and Leese's mellow wealth complement each other very well. Both took scintillating advantage of the many opportunities for virtuosic and melodic display.

However, it was Fraser's solo with bassoon played by Julie Link, oboe by Nick Cornish and flute by Aimee Gallardo that held the audience's breath. Madden's tenor voice and Amosa's bass voices are also fine and deserve works less infatuated by the soprano sound.

The combined choirs were also a force to reckon with, producing a triumphant, glorious wall of sound sufficient to forgive the occasional muddied overwritten lines, sparse high entries and choirmaster Burchell's ability to lead from behind.

Again, the Southern Sinfonia shows itself able and willing to produce excellent results for such a truly admirable conductor as Simon Over.

A bashful Philippa Harris, the Sinfonia's manager for 20 years, was deservedly praised by Over as a ''legend'' and a ''miracle-worker''.

After such joyful noises, Dvorak's 6th Symphony could not help but be something of a letdown, resurrected only by the energetic Scherzo and sweet Finale and the woodwind and brass sections' excellent work.

Overall, this was a powerful performance, exceedingly well received. It celebrates not only City Choir Dunedin's enduring reincarnations over 150 years but the wealth of amateur and professional talent that this city creates, nurtures and exports.

Review by Marian Poole, ODT Monday 23 September 2013

Comments from members of the audience:

"The performance was very good and some movements sublime, in particular the Kyrie, Gloria and Osanna. After the Osanna I saw Jim sitting next to me nodding his head in approval. Praise indeed. Thank you all very much and I do wish I had been able to join you in singing."
Jennifer Bradshaw

"Fabulous concert last night. Felt very proud. That “Suscipe”made my hair stand on end!"
Di Wales