19 November 2011
Birmingham Bach Choir
Birmingham Bach Choir gave a thrilling performance at the City's Oratory
Over a cracking programme, the Birmingham Bach Choir displayed a wealth
of qualities and gave a performance of which they should be truly proud.
The static, a capella textures of John Tavener's Mother of God, and
two works by American composer Eric Whitacre, placed big demands on
breath-control and tuning. But the group met these superbly. Whitacre's
ethereal Lux Aurumque shimmered in all the right places, but second
on the bill did feel a tad early for this luminous show-stopper.
At the concert's heart were the canticles of Byrd's Great Service, so-called
for its grand polyphonic design and antiphonal architecture. For all
its technical complexity, Paul Spicer coaxed a performance of excellent
clarity, his group phrasing lyrical contours with real beauty, and conjuring
an incredible intimacy given their some sixty members.
The choir sing with an infectious enthusiasm, and their ability to give
such a joyous account of Bach's fiendish motet Singet dem Herrn, is
proof. With organ accompaniment from Alexander Norman, the group attacked
the work with a vigour that was thrilling from the outset, and drew
a praiseworthy evening to a magnificent close.
Verdict * * * *
Elmley de la Cour
Birmingham Post - 24.11.11