14 October 2013

Days of wonder #2

Two gigs, one day. Second was the Australian Chamber Choir at St Paul’s Church, Manuka. I’d enjoyed the earlier concert immensely and wondered if this could be so exciting. It was. From the first, strong notes of Cantate Domino by Monteverdi, I could tell this was confident, beautifully intoned, carefully read with structure and moving lines evident. These guys have travelled Europe several times and are welcomed at Bach’s own church, St Thomas’s, Leipzig. One of their reviews is quoted complimenting “flawless intonation, superb uniformity, perfect tonal balance, astounding dynamic range and sleek voice-leading” (Guido Krawinkel, General Anzeiger, Bonn, 23 July 2011, quoted in the program). Wow! I heard some delicious high notes, exceptional intonation, clear movements (I struggle with voice leading, but imagine that’s meant here), strength and volume but also delicacy, and lovely tonality. Close enough to perfect and that alone would be enough to drool. But more than that, this was unexpectedly exploratory. There were modern pieces here that were so clearly performed that anyone could appreciate. Wordless Japanese delicacy and shifting harmonies in As I crossed a bridge of dreams from the pen of Australian Anne Boyd. Singing in Tagalog with dog yelps and ululations and slides and more in Awit ni Solomon (Song of Solomon) from Filipino composer Robin C Estrada. Director Douglas advised this was all written and offered views to prove it. What a chart it would have been. A lexicon of dreams by Christine McComb was another song of unrecognised words and dissonant, moving, complex harmonies and vocal textures. Then a work by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Valiant-for-truth, informed by Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s progress and written after the bereavement of two friends, which grows to very effectively portray a brass fanfare at the end. By this time, I (not alone) am stunned by this choir and this program. To finish, Bach, JS. It’s a motet, Furchte dich nicht BWV228. I found it strangely hard to comprehend. Megan said much the same. I recorded and will be revisiting this one. Then gospel to end, Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel? But what to say of this performance? Not absolutely perfect, but so bloody close. I walked out bowled over, stunned by what would flabbergasted me in London or Berlin, let alone Manuka. See this choir if at all possible. The Australian Chamber Choir performed their program, Bridge of dreams, at St Paul’s Manuka under the direction of Douglas Lawrence.

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