I first came across the Australian Chamber Choir several years ago when classikON asked me to review one of their performances in Sydney. In 2017 I wrote of hearing for the first time this performance ensemble; ‘Sometimes you go to a concert and after just a few seconds know you are in for a treat. Lucky me, I had that experience with this, my first encounter with the Australian Chamber Choir. This exciting ensemble of young singers from Melbourne is on the tail end of a tour that included numerous concerts in Europe and across the south-eastern part of Australia. Music director Douglas Lawrence has at his fingertips an ensemble who just wants to sing and they do so with joy. He directs without fuss and the choir responds accordingly.’
This recent release on the Melbourne Move label of the Australian Chamber Choir brings a treasure trove of religious music suitable for the Christmas celebrations of lovers of fine choral music and they still treat me with their glorious sound.
The ACC is at the forefront of the European choral tradition and not just here in Australia but on its regular European tours it garners great reviews and reception so it is not surprising that this new CD delivers beautifully crafted performances of music from the 1400’s till the time of Johann Sebastian Bach.
There is a wonderful honesty and excitement to all the performances as they are recordings from live performances.
One of my favourite tracks is the totally happy and boppy Halleluja, freuet euch by Andreas Hammerschmidt. This is music to make you want to get up and dance and sing from the rooftops and there are delightfully appropriate solos from tenors Anish Nair and Stewart Webb and bass Lucas Wilson-Richter.
And what collection of a cappella choir music would be complete without the music of Bach? The ACC give a spirited performance of Lobet den Herrn alle Heiden. Douglas Lawrence directs this music from a depth of knowledge of not only choral music but that of Bach as well.
Two tracks include organ performed by one of Melbourne’s leading exponents of the baroque keyboard tradition, Elizabeth Anderson. The Pastorale in F Major by Bach is perfectly spaced and paced whilst the other track with organ is accompanying Elspeth Bawden’s sweet soprano line in Bach’s O Jesulein süß.
This well appointed and thoughtfully set out CD is just the ticket for stocking fillers for this coming Christmas. Buy one, indeed, buy several and enjoy and share the singing of this wonderful vocal ensemble.
A BAROQUE CHRISTMAS
AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER CHOIR
directed by Douglas Lawrence AM
Purchase at Auschoir.org/CDs
MOVE MCD 607
1 Ave Maria – Josquin des Prez
2 Gloria Missa Pange Lingua – Josquin des Prez
3 O Magnum Mysterium – Tomás Luis de Victoria
4 O Magnum Mysterium – Giovanni Gabrieli
5 Resonet in Laudibus – Johannes Eccard
6 Hodie, Christus Natus Est – Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
7 Vom Himmel hoch – Luther/Gumpelzhaimer
8 In dulci jubilo – Samuel Scheidt
9 Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen – Anon/Michael Praetorius
10 Singt und klingt – Michael Praetorius
11 Ein Kind geborn zu Bethlehem – Gesius/Praetorius
12 Halleluja, freuet euch – Andreas Hammerschmidt
13 O Jesulein süß – Johann Sebastian Bach
14 From the Pastorale in F Major – Johann Sebastian Bach
15 Lobet den Herrn alle Heiden – Johann Sebastian Bach
16 In dulci jubilo – Bach/Johann Walter
17 The Angel Gabriel – Trad. Arr. David Willcocks