reviewed by Neville Cohn
photo Denise Teo
There would have been more than usual interest in a performance by the University of Western Australia Choral Society at the weekend as this was Jangoo Chapkhana’s debut as director of this long- established choir.
It was an impressive presentation with Handel’s Ode for St Cecilia’s Day memorable for often-splendid choral corporate tone and tempo choices that sounded intuitively right.
A cornucopia of musical delights included trumpeter Jenny Coleman’s vividly realised contribution in ‘The trumpet’s loud clangour’. And after intermission, Evan Cromie, too, did wonders on the trumpet.
Incidentally, collectors of musical trivia might be interested to know that Handel’s Ode was premiered at a time when England was at war with Spain – and the work’s many martial flourishes would have stirred the blood of a goodly number of English concertgoers at the time.
Confident attack, well maintained momentum, phrasing of finesse and clarity of diction augur well for a choir that sounds refreshingly alert and revitalised as in ‘From harmony’.
An orchestra led by Daniel Kossov gave us finely managed dotted rhythms and clean lines in the overture and a gracefully stated Menuetto. Strings, overall, were in excellent fettle.
I liked the tenderness that informed much of ‘The soft complaining flute’ but singing was not always quite on the note here.
There was much that gave listening pleasure, too, in Bach’s Magnificat in D with the choir once again strikingly in form – and evoking what one commentator has so perceptively described as the work’s “unearthly jubilance”. Stewart Smith was beyond reproach at the organ.
In ‘Suscepit Israel’, vocal soloists Stephanie Gooch, Sarah-Janet Dougiamas and Meredith Wilkie sang to fine effect with Robert Hofmann coming into his own in ‘Quia fecit’. David Woodward brought a supple and musicianly voice to his arias. Earlier, we heard pleasingly idiomatic contributions from recorder players Jordi Corall and Tamara Gries in ‘Eurientes implevit bonis’.
In ‘Fecit potentiam’, singing oscillated between spot-on brilliance and incoherence.
There was also a deeply felt presentation of Bach’s O Jesu Christ, Mein Lebens Licht.
In passing: for the benefit of those concertgoers – and critics – who make a point of arriving in good time for events such as this, could something be done about latecomers who thoughtlessly walk into the hall mid-aria or chorus, their footsteps on the uncarpeted wooden floor providing a thoroughly unwanted clattering obbligato to Bach and Handel’s best efforts? What is the point of having ushers on duty if they do next to nothing about this maddeningly intrusive practice?