27 May 2014
This was one big gig and the best that I've heard from SCUNA. A big choir; lots of music; a fascinating series of takes on common themes. We heard two versions of Psalm 100, Jauchzet dem Herrn by Schütz and Jubilate Deo by Gabrieli. We heard a pair of Magnificats from Anerio and Anon and four Cantate Dominos from Monteverdi, Pitoni, Croce and Hassler. Two masses, Symphoniae Sacrae a 12 and Missa Brevis in F, both by Gabrieli and a Renaissance bracket with four songs of des Pres, Arcadelt, di Lasso and Parsons. To top it off, we heard an original piece by a member of the choir, in the style of all this, Domine, quid est homo? by Mark Chapman. I was speaking to a few of the choir before the performance and they were insistent on this. So they should be. What a link of past to present, that we have early music written today at ANU.
This was the best I've seen SCUNA, the most confident and the most hard working. The space was big and wet and the sound was full and rounded with voices merged to one. Just as the choristers like it (although too wet for many other styles). I thought I could identify the difference of Italian and northern - the Italian as more exultant and gregarious and the German as less ornate, more respectful, but I didn't convince myself from this collection, mainly because he balance was too Italian so statistically unreliable. Also one piece (the Cantate Domino of Giovanni Croce?) seemed to change in national character, firstly slow and devout, then more independent and outgoing, so what value that judgement? A Monteverdi Cantate Domino had me thinking of pop embellishments and how nothing is new. I enjoyed following a few sounds. The Allen organ was dramatic when it let go those low notes, deep and space filling and persistent, and it was ever present, more so than a little baroque pipe organ. The voice of Paul Eldon, visiting tenor, stood out a mile. The majesty of the baroque trumpets that sounded for several tunes. There was variation, too. Full choir or small choir, or full choir with semi-chorus, two small orchestras and that organ. St Christopher's doesn't have the presence of a mediaeval stone buttressed cathedral, but it's an apt place for all this religious joy and exultation. So this was a wonderful concert, much enjoyed and very extensive and intellectually challenging with its revisitations of common works.
The ANU Choral Society (SCUNA) was conducted by Andrew Koll (musical director) with cantor Paul Eldon (tenor), Anthony Smith (organ) and Charis Messalina (concert director, soprano). Too many others to mention, but suffice to say about 70 singers in two choirs and 17 instrumentalists in two orchestras.