The Australian Chamber Choir and Melbourne Baroque Orchestra treated a full house at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church to a remarkably assured performance of Bach’s Mass in B minor …  The ACC has made it a trademark to use its choristers as soloists, and this choice is justified given the depth of talent in its ranks.  … The choir and orchestra revelled in the joyous chorus movements, conveying both an understanding and appreciation of the music.Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 8.36.06 PM

Live Review: Australian Chamber Choir sings Bach

WITH MELBOURNE BAROQUE ORCHESTRA
April 7, 2016 Reviews

BY ZOE BARKER

Bach Mass in B Minor
Australian Chamber Choir with Melbourne Baroque Orchestra
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 3 April

The Australian Chamber Choir and Melbourne Baroque Orchestra treated a full house at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church to a remarkably assured performance of Bach’s Mass in B minor. The groups rose to the challenge of performing this monumental choral work, the last completed by Bach before his death.

The Mass in B minor has an interesting performance history; it is known that the work was not performed in its entirety until long after Bach’s death, leaving historians to question how the composer intended it be heard. Interpretations vary from those which use a full choir plus soloists and orchestra, to those which use the bare minimum, in some cases assigning a single voice to each part. The performance given by the ACC sat somewhere in between, closer to the pared-back chamber approach, but without compromising depth of sound.

The ACC has made it a trademark to use its choristers as soloists, and this choice is justified given the depth of talent in its ranks. Bass-baritone Oliver Mann was a stand-out with his sensitive interpretation of the text and warmth of tone. Soprano Michelle Clarke and tenor Christopher Roache were nicely matched in their duet Domine Deus, and worked well together with phrasing and delivery.

The choir itself produced a pure yet rich tone, with very few intonation issues and a fantastic clarity when approaching the complicated contrapuntal writing. The blending of the 25-strong choir was remarkable, achieving a good balance throughout. The 6-part Sanctus was a particular highlight, and the two alto groups must be commended for their steady presence throughout the busy texture. The sopranos shone through the occasional soaring descant lines.

The newly created Melbourne Baroque Orchestra is a formidable group featuring a number of Melbourne’s most decorated early music specialists. Led by concertmaster David Irving, the group supported the choir with a well-executed and historically informed account of the score. The small string section were particularly attentive to conventions of late Baroque performance practice with its bowing and articulation. The soloists playing the obbligato lines with the singers were solid throughout, with oboist Kirsten Barry working particularly well in matching alto Elizabeth Anderson in their duet.

The tempi chosen by director Douglas Lawrence ensured that the whole performance moved along but avoided any sense of frenetic energy in more challenging sections. The choir and orchestra revelled in the joyous chorus movements, conveying both an understanding and appreciation of the music.

 

CutCommonMag.com, April 7, 2016

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