In a programme titled Something Rich and Strange, the National Chamber Choir impressed with sublime vocal power when the voice became an instrument of delight, rich and strange and the sixteen person choir were an orchestra. This Waterford Music presentation in The Large Room was a treat on a spring night and managed to include some Irish songs as Gaeilge by Irish composers.
Much of the concert, under Brian MacKay’s fine direction, had a touch of different nations folk songs. Opening with a disputed Bach piece for voices, Lobert Den Herrn (Praise the Lord) where the voices soared in purest sound for a variation of Alleluias, that was magic on the ear.
A Brahms Sieben (7) Lieder had deep and sonorous passages (Waldesnacht) and glorious sounds of horses in motion. Some were sickley sweet with romantic sorrow and it ended with a glimmer of hope.
Gerard Victory’s arrangement of the Gaelic poem – the great Munster spng – Sliabh Geal gCua was beautiful.
After the interval a Vaughan Williams setting of three Shakespeare Songs was equally beautiful as the choir caught the Ding Dong Bell of Full fathom Five. The echo and resonance for The Cloud-Clapped Towers was powerful for – We are such stuff as dreams are made on – a much favoured selection of church or memorial service for dead actors and theatre folk.
Kodaly’s An Ode For Music, composed for the Cork Choral Festival over fifty years ago, was a fine taster for the longer Hungarian folktune Matrai Kepek with its repeating urgent rhythms.
The closing Villa-Lobos, Bachanas Brasileiras, linked Bach of the opening passage to the music of Brazil in a sublime Prelude and Fugue without words – an orchestra of voices – a soundscape of variations in tone with lalalaa and deedeedeee rising and falling with great beauty.