… resounding jubilation burst forth in Orlando Gibbons’ anthem “O Clap Your Hands”, considered one of the greatest treasures of Anglican sacred music. The women’s precise, treble-like intonation was carefully balanced with the full-bodied tenors and sonorous basses, and together they gloried vociferously in the mighty polyphony of the work.

Here Celebration, there Weeping

Australian Chamber Choir, cond. Douglas Lawrence

Pauluskirche, Darmstadt

DARMSTADT. — Fascinating insights into English sacred music of the late sixteenth century were offered by last Wednesday’s concert by the Australian Chamber Choir, part of the Pauluskirche’s current summer organ concert series. The four-part mass by William Byrd radiated a deep spirituality. The work, written for a secret mass ceremony, was originally published without a title page under the anti-Catholic reign of Elizabeth I. Byrd’s surreptitious setting of the ordinary of the mass is captivating on account of its unusually intimate expression. Thanks to the choir’s pure intonation and smooth tone under the direction of Douglas Lawrence, the work glowed with a moving simplicity.

Then resounding jubilation burst forth in Orlando Gibbons’ anthem “O Clap Your Hands”, considered one of the greatest treasures of Anglican sacred music. The women’s precise, treble-like intonation was carefully balanced with the full-bodied tenors and sonorous basses, and together they gloried vociferously in the mighty polyphony of the work. Joyful praise also characterised Byrd’s anthem “Sing joyfully”, performed clearly and effortlessly.

By contrast, sombre shadows darkened Thomas Tomkins’ madgrial, “When David Heard”. A striking link could be heard between this lament of David, composed in 1622, and the “Lamentations” written in 2002 by the Australian composer Stephen Hodgson. Thomas Kristof dared to make a decisive break from tradition in his 2007 Christmas motet, “O magnum mysterium”. Rather than naïve joy at the birth of the Messiah, his work’s low alto range evoked the hollow lament of a humanity seeking redemption.

The choir’s programme was complemented by Wolfgang Kleber’s dramatic rendition of a Beethoven prelude on the organ.

Darmstädter Echo, Darmstadt, 10 July 2009

Darmstädter Echo, July 2009, July 10, 2009

← Back to reviews