Tag Archives: Magnificat

UWA Choral Society




Winthrop Hall

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? 

Southern Star

Choir of Trinity College, University of Melbourne

Michael Leighton Jones, director

Marshall McGuire, harp

ABC Classics 476 6349

TPT: 63’ 11”

reviewed by Neville Cohn

The gem of this compilation is Britten’s Ceremony of Carols. The finesse that informs every moment of this exquisite work makes this one of the most satisfying recordings of the work I can recall. It’s a compendium of musical marvels. Whether in evoking the ecstatic interior mood of As Dew in Aprille, the emphatically stated This Little Babe or the rippling note streams that Marshall McGuire coaxes from his harp, this is a performance to cherish.

Britten’s delightful work is often performed, yet there’s nothing here that sounds dull or routine. On the contrary, it comes across with a newly minted freshness which is quite delightful.

McGuire is no less persuasive in Christopher Willcock’s Southern Star. The texts of this song cycle are by cartoonist extraordinaire Michael Leunig. The Trinity College choristers are in fine fettle here, sombre in the introductory Love is Born, intense and ecstatic in Christmas and, in Gul Gul Dja Mardji, the presentation is informed by an emphatically atavistic quality. I liked the bustle which informs What did you get? (a rather delightful piece about Xmas presents) – and in Real and Right and True, McGuire again comes up trumps.

William Kirkpatrick’s Away in a Manger was a joy and Andrew Carter’s Mary’s Magnificat is beautifully essayed.

A thoroughly recommend compilation.