sat 18/05/2024

choral music

Bach B Minor Mass, SCO & Chorus, Egarr, Usher Hall, Edinburgh - smiling faces all round

As any good choral singer knows, you can’t deliver too emphatic a “k” for the opening Kyrie Eleison of any one of thousands of Mass settings. Well, almost. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra Chorus produced such a distinct, detached, and powerful...

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Roomful of Teeth, Milton Court review - mellifluous minimalism with a mild manner

If there’s a better name for a vocal group than Roomful of Teeth I have yet to come across it. But if it conjures up images of brash, in-your-face showbiz the reality couldn’t be more different.This hip Grammy-winning American ensemble bill...

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theartsdesk at The Three Choirs Festival - Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Hammond

The Three Choirs is (are?) off again, for the 295th time, but with a very different look, even from the festivals of my youth, never mind 1715, or whenever the first one was held (there seems to be some doubt about it). The big oratorio...

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Elgar Oratorios, Hallé, Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester review - a landmark in music making

Sir Mark Elder has a special affection for the music of Elgar. They share a birthday, on 2 June, and his time with the Hallé has included more than one celebration of the composer at this time of year.Now that his departure as music director is in...

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Handel for the King, Le Concert Spirituel, Niquet, Wigmore Hall at St James's Spanish Place review - post-coronation celebrations

Union Jacks could be stowed away, and EU ones figuratively, furtively flourished: this was a concert of celebratory music for a Hanoverian king by a Saxon composer, by then recently become a British citizen, performed by a French ensemble in a Roman...

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Estonian National Male Voice Choir, Üleoja, Kings Place review - full-throated Baltic choral music

One of the singers smashes out a jittery pulse on a shaman drum and the 50-strong choir intone a chant, while at the front a tenor who looks like a doorman you wouldn’t mess with spits out what sounds like a threat from between gritted teeth. It is...

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Ein Deutsches Requiem, SCO, Emelyanychev, Usher Hall, Edinburgh review - immaculate, but lacking soul

From the outset, it was clear that this would be a performance of immaculate sonic architecture. Over a soft, deep, and breathy organ pedal the first utterings of the strings sounded tentative, almost improvised, like an artist making the first...

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Tenebrae, Short, St John’s Smith Square review - Bach and MacMillan soulfully joined, until the end

Tenebrae in tenebris: put more plainly, a top choir that’s anything but shadowy, except when it needs to be, doing its bit for the darkness of Maundy Thursday. The thoughtful plaiting of Bach motets with three Tenebrae Responsories and other works...

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Facade Ensemble, Collins Rice, St Margaret Pattens Church review - meditation and reflection

The Facade Ensemble is an interesting chamber group of young players dedicated to exploring 20th repertoire, in this case John Cage, Arvo Pärt and Gavin Bryars, who celebrates his 80th birthday this year. The programme, put together by founder and...

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Classical CDs: Christmas discs 2022

 GoldMund, Anna Veit: Mehr Oder Weniger Lametta – arrangements of Tchaikovsky, Bach, Humperdinck, Martin Luther, John Rutter (Solo Musica)What works best here are the classy, and occasionally witty and wacky brass arrangements, plus some very...

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BBC National Chorus of Wales, BBC NOW, Jeannin, BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff review - competent music-making, interesting choices

There are conductors, and then again there are choral conductors. I sang under David Willcocks in Tallis’s 40-part "Spem in alium" and remember vividly that long-armed semaphoring that he later applied so notably with the Bach Choir.Sofi Jeannin,...

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Watts, Williams, The Bach Choir, Philharmonia, Hill, RFH review - Vaughan Williams, from decadence to metaphysics

David Hill, long-term driving force of the Bach Choir which Vaughan Williams sang in for 18 years before becoming its music director in 1921, claims VW as “a quintessentially English composer”.That was rather less the case in Thursday night's choice...

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