The young ensemble under the direction of Douglas Lawrence began softly with Schütz’s tender motet: Selig sind die Toten (Blessed are the Dead) in German and convincing with their homogeneous sound in further sacred works by Byrd and in the radiant Jubilate Deo of Gabrieli.

Johanna Lennartz with the Australian Chamber Choir opens the Bach Organ Festival in the Thomaskirche.

What could be better in the Thomas Church than choral singing and organ music? With a varied program, the Australian Chamber Choir and Dresden organist, Johanna Lennartz opened the Bach Organ Festival at the weekend; this will continue every Saturday until August 20, with female organists to be heard from all over the world.

On their European tour, the Australian Chamber Choir has brought vocal music from the time of Bach and before. The young ensemble under the direction of Douglas Lawrence began softly with Schütz’s tender motet: Selig sind die Toten (Blessed are the Dead) in German and convincing with their homogeneous sound in further sacred works by Byrd and in the radiant Jubilate Deo of Gabrieli. Not until the opening of Charles Villiers Stanford’s Magnificat for Double Choir was the Thomaskirche completely filled by the powerful sound of the 18 singers from the sanctuary.

Of particular interest was the 18-part vocal writing of I heard the owl call my name, from Australian, Philip Nunn (born 1961). To an opening of sustained notes in the womens’ voices were inserted passages of progressively new material. A meditative passage culminated in all voices coming together in waves of swelling and subsiding sound, through  which could be heard ghostly animal sounds.

The rest of this year’s Bach Organ Festival appears to also be feminine – after all, the organ is also the “queen of instruments” …

To read the original review in German, click on the following link: Leipzig Rezension 2011

Anja Jaskowski in Leipziger Volkszeitung July 19, 2011, July 19, 2011

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