BWW REVIEW: THOMAS TALLIS' ENGLAND Opens Australian Brandenburg Orchestra's 2018 Season With A Beautiful Collection Of English Music Featuring Max Riebl
Wednesday 28th February 2018, 7pm City Recital Hall Sydney
Australian Brandenburg Orchestra's (ABO) Artistic Director and Conductor Paul Dyer's programming of THOMAS TALLIS' ENGLAND recreates the music Renaissance and Baroque England along with a delightful interpretation of a work written over three centuries after Tallis' death. Combining the talents of the ABO, the Brandenburg Choir and Australian Countertenor Max Riebl, Tallis' influence on four composers that succeeded him as Organist of the Chapel Royal is paired with works by George Frideric Handel and Ralph Vaughn Williams.
The first series of works are presented in rapid succession with Heidi Jones opening the evening with Orlando Gibbons' Prelude in G major, demonstrating the sprightly, technically challenging work before making way for the Brandenburg Choir who present a wash of sound for William Byrd's Ave Verum Corpus which includes floating soprano lines grounded by lower registers and rich dynamics. Recognising the Christian calendar's period of Lent, four violas and four cellos present an instrumental interpretation of Gibbon's mournful Drop, Drop Slow Tears before Riebl's pure voice conveys the bittersweet The Silver Swan and the choir returns for the vocal version of Drop, Drop Slow Tears. The majestic and controlled Great Lord of Lords, also by Gibbons leads in to the rapid Hosanna To The Son of David in which the polyphonic arrangement of six parts has a conversational chatter effect.
The larger orchestra takes to the stage to present Henry Purcell's Overture and Rondeau from Abdelazer, a powerful and passionate work with a repeated motif echoed through Dyer's performance at the Harpsichord. Riebl's acting ability and depth of understanding of the text is demonstrated in a delightfully ominous expression of the spirit of the cold in Purcell's Cold Song from King Arthur which has an intensity and power as he captures the essence of being cold with a mesmerising performance. The I Largo and II Allegro from George Fridric Handel's Concerto Grosso is guided by Dyers expressive conducting which captures the broad Largo and passionate chatter of Allegro. Riebl conveys the comical devoted protestations of the lovesick Orlando in Handel's Fammi Combattere, underpinned by the orchestra. The Curtain Tune from Matthew Locke's The Tempest is presented with a subtle wash of contemplation which has a slow burn that builds to passionate expression. Ethereal Alto vocals feature in the choir's presentation of Tallis' If Ye Love Me before Dyer draws out the sweeping texture of Agnus Dei from Missa Puer Natus Est Nobis with graceful encouragement which sees the singers float over the notes. Dyer's passionate expression and enthusiasm shines as he evokes the deeper storytelling of Why Fumeth In Fight from Tunes For Archbishop Parker's Psalter, a work with a heavier folk influence than the rest of the programming.
The night is finished with a world first interpretation of Ralph Vaughan William's Fantasia On A Theme By Thomas Tallis on baroque instruments. Written for contemporary instruments and arranged to evoke the sound of an organ, the Brandenburg Quartet of principle first and second violin, viola and cello, a full sized orchestra and a smaller orchestra situated in the choir stalls create the layered effect of the organ. The three parts work together to create the sweeping sustained sound of deeper pipes whilst texture of smaller pipes are layered with the quartet to give the sound a depth, density and texture.
THOMAS TALLIS' ENGLAND is a brilliant showcase of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Brandenburg Choir and soloist Max Riebl who has been working with the Dyer and the ABO over the past decade. Hopefully Dyer will delve into more of the English works and also collaborate with Riebl again soon.