Choir of St James’ King Street directed by Warren Trevelyan-Jones with The Australian Haydn Ensemble led by Skye McIntosh, present Songs of Solemnity, a collection of choral works by Allegri, JS Bach and Mozart which, though separated by centuries in style, are of extraordinary beauty and emotional intensity.
Gregorio Allegri (c. 1582–1652) was a chorister and eventual Choirmaster of the Papal choir. Very much a composer of his time, the little we have of his church music is church music is steeped in Catholic tradition.
A staple of cathedral choirs the world over, his Miserere is beloved by many for its soaring soprano lines and ambient chant. This was not always so – for decades the piece was a carefully guarded liturgical secret, forbidden by Vatican protocols from being performed to the outside world – until Mozart (1756–1791) came along. The 14-year-old heard the chant once or twice during a visit to the Vatican and copied it down from memory. The setting is in a regular recitative/cadence falsobordone style. However, its interest derives from the ornaments added by the singers.
It is fitting therefore that Mozart’s Requiem should be the centerpiece of this programme. Unfinished on his deathbed, Mozart’s iconic Requiem has been surrounded by mystery and intrigue since its completion by Süssmayr and others. Its popular reputation has endured. By turns dramatic and tender, the work combines some tumultuous choruses with lyrical solo quartet sections.
Jesu, meine Freude (BWV 227) is JS Bach’s (1685–1750) longest and most ambitious motet. Most likely written for a funeral, it is a masterpiece of structure and symmetry, as well as showing extreme sensitivity to the setting of the text. Bach’s prolific writing includes over two hundred cantatas as well as his famous Passions. His writing, full anguish yet hope, has an extraordinary capacity to move. He is one of the most beloved composers of all time.
For much of its almost two hundred years of ministry The Choir of St James’ has been regarded as one of Australia’s foremost Anglican choirs. It is renowned for its artistically outstanding performances, and has a large and varied repertoire.
Formed in 2011, The Australian Haydn Ensemble comprises some of Australia’s finest period instrumentalists. It has already developed an excellent reputation, and has a flourishing series at the Sydney Opera House Utzon Room.
ALLEGRI – Miserere
BACH – Jesu, meine Freude (BWV 227)
MOZART – Requiem
Tickets: $50/45; to book call (02) 8256 2222, visit www.cityrecitalhall.com,
or purchase on the door