"A choir at the height of its form"
Bath Camerata, Prior Park Chapel, Bath
"a pleasure to hear them on one of their relatively rare
appearances in their own back yard, performing an unusual 20th century work
in this sumptuous setting with its crystal-clear acoustic. "
This fine choir's reputation now extends well beyond Bath, following its success in the Sainsbury’s Choir of the Year TV competition.
So it was a pleasure to hear them on one of their relatively rare appearances in their own back yard, performing an unusual 20th century work in this sumptuous setting with its crystal-clear acoustic.
Conductor, Nigel Perrin has a particular affinity with contemporary choral sound and the group has had to learn how to handle an unfamiliar idiom - to sing in a different musical language - as well as a text in Finnish.
And, although this work All Night Vigil by Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara, has echoes of mediaeval plainchant, it nonetheless speaks with a distinctive modern voice, unmistakably proclaiming its Orthodox Church pedigree, including a dramatic basso profundo solo part splendidly rendered by Jeremy Birchall with an authentic trace of gravel in the lower register.
The harmonic structure is full of moving dissonances giving ample opportunity for the singers to show us their grasp of its urgent rhythms and changing moods.
The piece poses a considerable challenge to the choir's ability to communicate the essential mystery of the Byzantine Mass in a way that will sustain interest without losing its coherence - its architecture.
It is technically a big task and the singers were at maximum concentration throughout, handling the big climaxes with energy and precision.
The vocal colours glowed in this sympathetic acoustic and the dynamic contrasts were beautifully observed.
This was a fascinating musical journey, in the company of a choir at the height of its form and the audience was generous in its applause.