Chamber Choir take command of challenging work

November 10, 2014
Clive O’Connell

MUSIC:  LUX AETERNA     
Australian Chamber Choir

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Middle Park   
November 9

One of the more difficult choral works of the last 50 years, Ligeti’s Lux Aeterna subdivides the normal four-voice ensemble forces into 16 individual lines; in your normal chamber-sized body, everybody sings solo. Not that this differentiation puts a spotlight on participants; the work is a sound-mesh which seems to move slowly but is packed with timing problems as the singers mimic each other, interweaving in a chromatic cloud. Douglas Lawrence’s young musicians acquitted themselves pretty well throughout this test, with subtle entries during the complex central treatment of the text Quia pius es accomplished deftly.

The rest of Sunday afternoon’s program followed a more orthodox path. Employing lean support from a period string quintet and chamber organ, Lawrence presented Pergolesi’s Magnificat,  about which the chorus was evidently highly enthusiastic. Purcell’s O sing unto the Lord anthem also generated several excellent passages from the ACC, both soloists and choir, while everyone had the kindest of workouts in a brief version of Bach’s cantata-motet O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht.

But the most affecting element of this short concert emerged in Palestrina’s simple but elevating Aeterna Christi Munera mass, thanks to a calm and considered interpretation with an informed realisation of the composer’s linear fluency. It takes hard work to achieve such command where polyphonic lines are evenly pointed and blended. With its current personnel, the choir has an unusual solidity; even when the tenors split for the mass’ final Agnus Dei, the textural amplitude remained. A fine display from a gifted body. Read the original

The Age, November 11, 2014

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