Review: Concert with the New Zealand Chamber Choir

Originally posted on stuff.co.nz here

Reviewed by John Button on the 10/6/2014

 

MUSIC: Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir

Directed by Karen Grylls with Jayne Tankersley (soprano), Bianca Andrews (mezzo), Christopher Hillier (baritone), Michael Stewart (organ), Orchestra Wellington. Music by Durufle, Faure. Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, June 7.

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Although both the Durufle and Faure requiems are often performed it is rare to hear them together in the same concert. As they are similarly constructed, and similarly gently lyrical works to hear them together made all sorts of sense.

Yet, at concert’s end I could not escape the feeling that the “sameness” of the two pieces gave a feeling of overall blandness; would not a stylistic contrast have made more sense? Maybe the also rather gentle Requiem by Frank Martin – but with distinct harmonic differences – would have been an interesting companion for either Durufle or Faure?

Not to worry, for both works were treated to lovely, affectionate performances. The Durufle, composed in 1947, was given with the version for organ rather than orchestra, and here Michael Stewart was superbly stylish and supportive.

The choir – 24 voices – sang beautifully, and the solos by Christopher Hillier and Bianca Andrews, in the Pie Jesu, were very well taken, and cellist Jane Young gave excellent support in the Pie Jesu.

The Faure Requiem exists in versions for organ, small orchestras of different configurations and large orchestra. Here we had a small orchestra with strings and two horns, and that made an ideal match for the small choir.

Again a lovely performance, with Christopher Hillier increasingly impressive and Jayne Tankersley fine in a boy treble way (completely appropriate) and Matthew Ross the fine violin obbligato player.

A large audience comfortably filled the cathedral, and the prolonged applause matched the quality of what this fine choir delivered for Karen Grylls.

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