Camerata Vocale Freiburg opens choral concerts as part of international cathedral concerts.
. Saturday choir concerts as part of this year’s series of International Cathedral Concerts of St. Blasi opened Camerata Vocale Freiburg under the direction of Winfried Toll. The ceremonial intrade on the cathedral steps, which traditionally sounds before the first concert of the choir, was performed by the city musician and the youth group St. Blasien. The choir program was completed by the organist Josef Still.
Mysterium fidei, or Mystery of Faith, is the title of the Camerata Vocale program, and Palestrina’s Salve Regina, which sounded at the beginning of the concert, conveyed not only an idea of what could be understood by this Mysterium fidei. but at the same time an idea of what makes this choir so special.
There were extremely spaced voices, but they were incredibly clear and easy to understand. In addition, the optimal intelligibility of the text, which in a precise and clear way emphasizes the beginning and end consonants, and at the same time connects words in an almost endless sequence with legato fragments.
This vocal quality of Camerata Vocale became even more pronounced in Mendelssohn’s “Why Toben die Heiden”. Dramatic, with screaming gestures accentuated at the beginning, enriched in the course with strong contrasts of sharp staccato and reminiscent of a legato anthem, this interpretation seemed extremely vivid. If the chorus almost suddenly jumped into Mendelssohn’s composition, it gently, yet perfectly cut into Bruckner’s “Os justi”, carefully preparing the joyful revival. The women started the Ave Maria almost tenderly, the men took over the mention of the fetus and the triumphant fortissimo, and for the first time together in the cry of “Jesus”, ending a gradual decrescendo with the pious breath of “Amen.”
Alternately as purely male and then purely female choir Camerata Vocale performed with Francis Poulenc’s “Quatre pertites prires de Saint Franois d’Assise” and “Ave verum corpus” by the same composer. If the singers thus impressively demonstrated their quasi-solo vocal presence, this quality was even more clearly emphasized in “Missa a cappella” by Einojuhani Rautavaara. In this mass, Rautavaara composes layers that are, so to speak, independent of each other. For example, women start Kyrie as a kind of perpetual motion machine, consisting of extremely staccato engraved, repeated notes that are then continued in ostinato form as the male and female solo voices alternate. In Sanctus the emphasis is placed on the male and female voice alternately, the other half takes on a quieter accompaniment function, and in Benedictus there are also solo elements that break through the tapestry of sound that thickens towards the end. Finally, the very calmly flowing Agnus Dei, despite the chromatic vocal guidance, seems to extend the vocal range of the choir almost without limit.
Together with the last composer of the evening, Georg Schumann, another feature of this choir came to the fore, namely the perfect mastery of dynamic subtleties. In the first song he wrote “Komm, heil’ger Geist”, the crescendo and decrescendo swayed up and down like the soft sound of bells, in the second “Das ist ein köstliches Ding” waved like the sound of the sea, with slightly stronger amplitudes than in the first.
In addition to the organist arrangement of Andante from Christian Sinding’s piano quintet by Reger, organist Josef Still brought with him two relatively short pieces, Toccata by Marius Monnikendam and “Offrande au Saint Sacrement” by Olivier Messiaen. All three works come from the 20th century. Reger edited Sinding’s composition in 1912, Dutch Monnikendam composed his masterpiece in 1936, Messiaen’s piece probably dates from 1928. While Andante proceeds solemnly, melodiously and with wide arches to fortissimo and ends again quite spherically withdrawn, the toccata breaks down almost suddenly. Messiaen uses short, sequential running gestures in his piece, then introduces triad motifs as a new quality to the prolonged pedaling point and ends with long chord steps.