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Choir and ensemble show sparks of magic

Chamber Choir Ireland St George's Church, High Street, Belfast Review by Rathcol

Published 31/10/2016

Chamber Choir Ireland has become a welcome regular visitor to this northern capital.

Its most recent appearance in St George's Church on Saturday also marked the conclusion of the current Belfast International Arts Festival.

In concert with the Chamber Choir was the Chatham Saxophone Quartet.

Since the advent of Jan Garbarak, the combination is nothing new but when this quartet merely mirrored the choral parts, it seemed totally superfluous, unnecessarily clouding the choral tone without adding anything new.

That the tone of Chamber Choir Ireland is liquid in its power and purity, beautifully balanced and pitched, was more obvious in the unaccompanied items.

The choir always made full use of its strong vocal flexibility of style, subtly varying the sound to suit the texture in the unaccompanied works by Britten, Gesualdo and Bruckner.

It was vitally responsive to its conductor, James Wood, on this occasion, who controlled the widely ranging dynamics which coloured and tinted the music to very best effect.

Virgencita, for example, by Avro Part was outstanding whereas the unconvincing saxophone quartet arrangement and uneasily pitched performance of his Fratres was definitely not.

It was only in the contemporary work by the hugely imaginative Georgian composer Giya Kanceli and titled Amao Omi that the combination of voices and instruments took on a special magic of its own and showed the audience why this particular pairing can have real impact poetically and sonorously when specifically intended.

Belfast Telegraph

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