City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Haydn's Harmony Mass, Queen's Hall, Review

By Barbara Bryan - Posted on 24 October 2014

SCO - 2014
Show Details
Queen's Hall
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
Tonu Kaljuste (conductor), Gregory Batsleer (Chorus Director)
Andrea Lauren Brown (Soprano), Helen Lepalaan (Mezzo Soprano), Rupert Charlesworth (Tenor), Ashley Riches (Bass Baritone), Members of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra choir
Running time: 

The programme spanned centuries and began with ‘Solfeggio’, an a cappella composition for a choir written in 1963 by the Estonian composer Arvo Part. Composed in his unique tintinnabular style the sopranos, altos, tenors, basses began by individually singing abstract syllables taken from the scale of C major. With complex timing, the short piece built to a crescendo then hauntingly dissolved into silence, an integral feature of Part’s work. Conducted compassionately by the Estonian conductor Tonu Kaljuste - an authority with regard to the interpretation of Part’s music - it was an extremely moving introduction to the concert with skilled singing from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra choir.

This was followed by another Part composition, his ‘Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten’ – a composer he greatly admired. Like the former piece, this composition for strings began on a tranquil note this time with the sound of a single tubular bell, reminiscent of a religious environment. The strings then gently take up the melody, encouraged by Kaljuste who is utterly absorbed in this haunting piece which concludes abruptly, with perfect timing from the strings, and a resonating bell.

We are then transported to the eighteenth century with Haydn’s Symphony No 90 in C. A prolific composer, this is one of his lesser known symphonies. With expressive hands, but minimal movements, Kaljuste’s conducting created a marvellous, clear, tight sound amongst the musicians with the finale – the Allegro assai – taken at a terrific lick.

The concert concluded with Hadyn’s rousing ‘Harmoniemesse’ – a ‘wind-bass mass’. This was his last completed work before his death and is a homage to Christ’s resurrection. With four soloists and the choir it begins with a lengthy ‘Kyrie eleison’ section – Lord have mercy, and concludes with ‘Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world.’ Performed in the intimate setting of the Queens Hall, where half the stall seats had to be removed to make space for the orchestra, choir and singers, the audience was completely immersed in the musical splendour of this work. Sung superlatively by the SCO choir, the harmonies are thrilling and the voices of the soloists – Andrea Lauren Brown, Soprano: Helen Lepalaan, Mezzo Soprano: Rupert Charlesworth, Tenor: Ashley Riches, Bass Baritone: - blended superbly.

Friday 24 October, 7.30pm, Glasgow City Halls.