The Brandenburg Choir, accompanied by musicians from the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra gave a fabulous performance complete with featured cherry on top in the form of 50 guest treble boys. Led by Artistic Director Paul Dyer, The concert opened with Battalia, by a somewhat lesser-known composer by the name of Biber, and was a delight to hear. The composer works cleverly to create naturalistic sounds throughout the piece, and Battalia (Battle) is designed to suggest the sounds of war, with moments throughout the piece of musicians stamping their feet like soldiers and the included stamping feet, and a double bass instrument playing with paper placed between the strings and the fingerboard to evoke the sound of a snare drum.
And assemblage of 50 small trebles, schoolboys from Trinity Grammar and the Sydney Grammar School, clad in neatly pressed shorts and ties then mounted the stage and sang enthusiastically. Occasional flat notes throughout an otherwise well prepared performance by the boys did nothing to curtail the palpable enjoyment of the audience (which no doubt was speckled with proud parents throughout the auditorium).
The first half concluded with a rousing Australian premiere of Buxtehude's Cantata Heut triumphieret Gottes Sohn, which allowed all musicians performing on the night to combine forces and create a rich wall of sound.
Paul Dyer brings a commanding, genial presence to the stage and clear musical leadership to both choristers and instrumentalists, making Brandenburg concerts feel highly professional, but very accessible and down-to-earth.
The soloists performed strongly and also engaged visually with the audience as storytellers through the music. Soprano Mina Kanaridis was a standout for me with a pure, clear voice and consideration and an expressive performance. However, it was perhaps a little distracting to see one soloist notably more animated than the others during smaller ensemble solos. Either interpretation could work but the distraction could have been addressed by giving clear direction as to the level of 'performance' needed from the soloists so there was a more seamless approach to expression and gesture.
The Brandenburg Choir came back to the stage sans trebles in the second half, demonstrating pure sound and precision in two Handel compositions, Concerto Grosso in F Major, Opus 6 No 9, and Dixit Dominus.
On a side note - I have a lot of praise for performances that take into account train timetables and laundry duties by offering shows contained in a compact time frame. Cocktail and lunch hour concerts run by the Sydney Conservatorium, and he Sydney Festival 'about an hour' series are just some quick examples of shorter, schedule-friendly shows that are making the arts more accessible and an easier fit into daily living. This Brandenburg performance offered this same concert gold, coupling a fabulous performance with thoughtful programming. With an evening show starting at 7.00pm, I was out on the CBD streets of Sydney by just before 9.00pm and home to do a load of whites before bedtime. Bliss.
If you haven't given yourself an opportunity to experience Baroque music, take this concert up as a taste of the warm, pure, joyful music that The Brandenburg Choir has to offer.
The Brandenburg Choir
with 50 boy trebles from Trinity Grammar School & Sydney Grammar School
Venue: City Recital Hall, Angel Place SYDNEY
Dates/Times: Fri 16, Sat 17, Wed 21, Fri 23, Sat 24 May @ 7pm
Matinee: Sat 24 May @ 2pm
Tickets: $24.50 to $111.50 - Booking fees apply
Bookings: City Recital Hall Box Office 02 8256 2222 www.cityrecitalhall.com.au or
Brandenburg Box Office 02 9328 7581