Bach and Mozart: In the Imagination of Their Hearts

Sydney Philharmonia Choirs. Sydney Opera House, Concert Hall. Easter Saturday 20th April, 2019

Reviewed : April 24, 2019

Photo : Cappella St Crucis and Brett Weymark ©Keith Saunders.

So much rehearsal by so many singers and musicians for a once only performance! But what a performance! And what a huge and appreciative audience! The Concert Hall was full; the atmosphere of anticipation was infectious. And no one was disappointed.

The Chamber Singers and the Symphony Chorus were joined by Capella St. Crucis, Hannover and the Sydney Philharmonic Orchestra to present:

Antony Pitts’ XLX Mente cordis Sui,

J.S. Bach’s Magnificat in D major and

W.A. Mozart’s Mass in C minor.

Imagine the sound of two hundred voices thrilling the ears and senses of with the inspirational scores of these composers. Add the acclaimed soloists Sara Macliver, Anna Dowsley, Nicholas Tolputt, Nicholas Jones and David Greco, and you have a program that added extra celebrative joy to the message of Easter. Hosanna in excelsis indeed!

Australian composer Antony Pitts was in the audience to hear the 50 vocal parts of his XLX Mente cordis Sui sung by a hundred singers positioned in four groups – one the stage, one on each side of the Concert Hall boxes, and one at the very back of the hall. This was real ‘surround sound’. There was nothing ‘virtual’ about it. Conducted by Brett Weymark, the voices encircled the audience with Pitts’ imaginative homage to Bach’s Magnificat.

“In my piece these dozen or so chords are recomposed in a kind of anachronistic bullet time… and scattered to the four winds and back to Bach …”(Antony Pitts)

Cappella St Crucis and Brett Weymark ©Keith Saunders.

And so they were! Using the ingenious idea of positioning the choirs at the east, west, south and north perimeters of the Concert Hall, the voices literally (en)compassed the audience delightfully.

The choirs were then joined by the orchestra for both the Magnificat, conducted by Weymark, and Mozart’s Mass, conducted by Florian Lohmann. In the hands of Concertmaster Fiona Ziegler, the choirs and each soloist, were a force vocale that paid high tribute to both composers.

The program notes in performances such as these are eagerly perused by those who love music but may not be especially learned about it. When they are explained as clearly – and with a little humour – as Yvonne Frindle did for this performance, they are even more gratefully appreciated, and add extra, informed enjoyment to the concert.

Also published in Stage Whispers magazine.