More reviews of the MacMillan performance

Some other chorus members did dig up a few more reviews. From classicalsource.com, this review by Susan Stempleski talked about the composition in general, and then included the following observations about the actual performance.  (You know, the part we chorus members scan through to find to see what nice or mean things people say about us.)

Davis led an outstanding performance of MacMillan’s complex, highly theatrical score. Every section of the orchestra played its party superbly. The Tanglewood Festival Choristers sang with splendid diction and obvious relish, displaying an extraordinary range of sound. As Christ, Christopher Maltman delivered a magnificent performance of a highly demanding role. He and the choral singers were at their most impressive and intense in ‘The Reproaches’, the piece’s most ‘operatic’ section, in which Christ, hanging from the Cross, strongly rebukes his people for allowing his human sufferings.

We’ll take it.  Though, unfortunately, the Reproaches is probably the least interesting part to sing from the chorus’s perspective… we just sing the same lines three times.  It’s really a showcase for the soloist.

The other strong, rather lengthy review comes from Matthew Guerrieri of The Faster Times.  As with most reviewers of a premiering piece like this, he writes extensively about the composition itself, though I found his analysis to be more in-depth and worthy of a read than other things I’d seen online.  As for the performance itself, he writes:

The performance was excellent, the orchestra game for whatever bright swath of paint MacMillan threw their way. The chorus reveled in the opportunity for sheer visceral impact—as is the Tanglewood Festival Chorus’s wont—but also produced some spellbinding clouds; sometimes the singers pared their straight-tone softnesses down to dangerously airless production, but their Marian vision, for example, was a lovely saturated quiet. Davis’s conducting was unostentatiously effective; it’s an achievement to lead a performance this good of a piece this massive without calling attention to oneself, but Davis not only kept everybody on track, he kept everybody committed to the musical effect.

Always nice to get more than a few words thrown our way, especially by a reviewer who obviously appreciated the time and effort into not only learning the piece but also achieving the unusual effects that the composer was going for.

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