Glorious sounds still ringing in the ear
The Camerata Musica group has always strived to give music lovers in Colombo a taste of the extraordinary. Its choice of works is wide ranging and its ideas are challenging. That choice and challenge met with success when the audience was presented with a delightful evening of Bach’s Magnificat in D Major and Haydn’s Missa in Tempore Belli on May 19 at the St. Paul’s Church. I must confess I had no intention of reviewing the performance when I took my seat at the concert. Therefore, what I write now is purely from memory. But, thankfully, the impact was so great that the music still rings in my ears.
The opening of the Magnificat began with grand sounds from the brass section of the orchestra and heralded in an equally triumphant chorus. Together, the choir and the accompanists handled Bach with baroque elegance, while Haydn’s Mass in a Time of War and its contemporary essence in the present contexts of Sri Lanka and the world, was brought out in both its grave and hopeful moments. Though there were a few instances where the soprano and bass voices inevitably tended to overpower their alto and tenor counterparts, and the Bach had a more consistent vigour than the lengthy (and thus more demanding) Haydn, these were not visible enough to detract from the overall depth, clarity and musicality of the presentation.
The diversity within religious music allows the glory of God to be sung in joyous praise or in quiet veneration. In his debut appearance as the Camerata’s conductor, Asitha Tennekoon was able to capture and control both of these effects in the running fugal passages as well as the emotive movements.
The soloists (Kumudini David, Eriko Perera, Peshali Yapa, Asitha Tennekoon and Laknath Seneviratne) beautifully blended with each other and the orchestra. Kumudini’s vocals in Quia respexit humilitatem showed superb technical control and moving passion. Young Satish Casie Chetty led the orchestral ensemble with a maturity beyond his years. In fact, in accompanying one of the solo items, his collaboration with Tamara Holsinger (whose solo cello line in the Magnificat soared with masterly simplicity and confidence) was a treat, to say the least. It was the perfection of experienced musicianship. Likewise, the hand-picked wind-players performed with rare precision and intonation.
Certainly, the acoustics of the venue were complementary to a recital of this nature.
However, in the end, the “actors” are responsible for the sounds they produce. All credit goes to the conductor, vocalists, musicians and organizers for their efforts and achievements. I have only praise for the Camerata singers for I heard them at their best at Saturday’s concert. Magnificat!