The Age review
A BAROQUE CHRISTMAS
Australian Chamber Choir
St Andrews, Brighton, December 8; Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Middle Park, December 9
Thanks to the inevitable bonanza of yuletide performances, choirs the world over do a roaring trade at this time of year.
Predictably, Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio will have their annual trotting-out, as will the familiar carol staples and other festive favourites.
But for those in search of something a little less same-old same-old, there are riches to be found in more obscure corners of the choral canon.
The Australian Chamber Choir’s A Baroque Christmas offered a program almost entirely drawn from these lesser-known seasonal works, championing a sublime repertoire that is all too often neglected.
Director Douglas Lawrence made some fascinating juxtapositions with his curation of the music, programming heavyweights of the era such as Gabrieli, Schutz and, of course, Bach, shoulder-to-shoulder with more enigmatic figures such as Sweelinck and Gesius.
Occasionally alternating different composers’ settings of the same text was another master stroke, putting into relief the ways different musical minds respond to the same muse.
This ensemble sings with impressive clarity and a bright, crisp tone, delivering a largely flawless blend throughout, even while navigating passages of complex polyphony …
The Age, December 9, 2018