Review by Judith Caldwell
Friday evening at Grace Lutheran Church, the choir of Musikay presented an evening of Christmas inspired music. The ten singers opened a cappella with three of the Noels Anciens of Donald Patriquin who is a French Canadian composer currently living in Montreal where he used to teach music at McGill. He is best known for his folk music arrangements and the three chosen Noels reflect that. Venez mes enfants is very pretty with beautiful four part harmonies.
Une vierge feconde is reminiscent of other Christmas carols whose melodies are hinted at in passing; and Tous les Bourgeois de Chatres is a jolly song with a happy skipping rhythm and a ‘ding dong’ section.Then the audience had an opportunity to sing one of three Christmas carols scattered throughout the program. We did not sound nearly as good as the choir.
Mercifully the choir then sang again, this time a nine-part work called Adventmotetten by Joseph Rheinberger, who was apparently something of a prodigy. He became a church organist at age seven and is best known as a composer for organ. The Adventmotetten, again sung a cappella, began with the basses in a sombre minor key and moved through expectation to joy before becoming quieter and more sombre again and ending with a meditative, prayerful Ave Maria. This choir sang it beautifully.
From this fairly quiet and little known music we then moved into much more familiar territory with a marvellous rendition of Silent Night (Stille Nacht) sung in German at a lively pace and accompanied by the organ sounding like a carnival Hurdy Gurdy. It was wonderful and the audience clearly enjoyed it.Maestro Potvin then treated us to some organ music played by him. It was a French piece by Claude Balbastre and was lively and flamboyant and very enjoyable. After another carol sung by the audience, the choir offered a stunning rendition of O Tannenbaum. The Tenors and basses began it and later there was a truly lovely soprano then an alto solo, and all through it a gorgeous weave of tones.
The penultimate offering was the star of the show, the much promised Jingle Bells in the original version. This consisted of a very difficult and complex piano accompaniment played by Maestro Potvin and the choir singing at a very lively and energetic pace – it was MUCH better than the bland version we are so used to & the audience loved it. The evening ended with the choir singing We Wish You A Merry Christmas and the audience wish them one too. Their next concert is the Messiah on December 21st & 22nd, See musikay.ca for details.