A wonderful community of devoted supporters
The Choir of St James, the Australian Haydn Ensemble and soloists Ayse Goknur Shanal, Nicole Smeulder, Richard Butler and Nicholas Dinopoulos conducted by Warren Trevelyan-Jones performed to a capacity audience. About half the seats were reserved for “Friends of Music at St James” which shows what a wonderful community of devoted supporters they have built up.
The headline work for this concert was Michael Haydn’s Requiem in C minor, but before interval we were treated to two smaller works.
Shanal’s voice in Little Organ Mass was lyrical, strong and vibrant
Franz Joseph Haydn’s Missa Brevis Sancti Jaonnis de Deo, also known as the Little Organ Mass was presented here with string orchestra and chamber organ continuo. The Kyrie established a strong choral tone and good balance with the orchestra. Lively tempos in the Gloria were well contrasted with the slower sections. The Benedictus for solo soprano (Ayse Goknur Shanal) and organ obligato is the only non-choral movement. Shanal’s voice was lyrical, strong and vibrant. I hope to hear a lot more of her.
At the finish of the profound and sincere performance of William Byrd’s Infelix Ego, I longed for more
William Byrd’s Infelix Ego, is the odd work out here. It is 200 odd years earlier than the other pieces, unaccompanied and pure Renaissance counterpoint. This type of music is the specialty of St James’ choir and they were right at home here. Sacred in the deepest sense of the word, their performance was restrained and beautifully executed. Their intonation excellent and every line clear; phrases rose and subsided from the texture with balance and grace. At the finish of this profound and sincere performance, I longed for more.
A joy to be introduced to Michael Haydn’s Requiem in C minor with such a fine performance
Michael Haydn is the lesser known younger brother of Franz Joseph. I was unfamiliar with his Requiem in C minor. It is more contrapuntal than most music from the Classical period. The opening is like Pergolessi’s Stabat Mater and many sections are strongly reminiscent of Bach; very much rooted in the counterpoint of the Baroque. That it was backward looking and probably considered conservative in the day, hardly matters more than 200 years hence. We have here a wonderful work in its own right. There are of course many Classical elements, and much of the work foreshadows Mozart’s Requiem of some 20 years later. In fact Mozart and his father were in the audience at the first performance and is likely to have had a considerable influence. The performance in this instance was grave, dramatic and dark. From strong burst of brass and timpani in the Dies irae to warm ensemble singing from the soloists, the music was consistently engaging. It was a joy to be introduced to this work with such a fine and committed performance.