Choir concert „Fire and Water“

Saturday, 23 March 2019, 6 pm, St. Johannes Hamburg Eppendorf
Sunday, 24. March 2019, 5 pm, Ansgarikirche Oldenburg

Choir Concert “Fire and Water”

in literature and choral works by Th. Morley, H. Distler, E. Whitacre and many others.
Speaker: Bernhard Hackmann
Oldenburger Kammerchor, conductor: Johannes von Hoff


NWZ 26 March 2019

Chamber choir impresses with precision

By Christoph Keller

EVERSTEN “And then I want to dive into the depths, immerse myself in the glow of wonders, and I feel as if angels were calling me into the old city of wonders” (Wilhelm Müller) – A deeply impressive concert in the Ansgari Church on Sunday showed what powerful images poets and composers were inspired to by the allegories of fire and water. Under the inspiring direction of Johannes von Hoff, the Oldenburg Chamber Choir sang a cappella works on the theme “Fire and Water” from different stylistic eras. Even in Thomas Morley’s oldest choral work “Fyer, Fyer!”, the 30 or so singers unfolded an effective sound space through extremely precise phrasing and rapidly changing accents in the individual voices. That the fire can not only consume in the longing for love, but also destroy enormously, became clear in Eduard Mörikes dramatic “Feuerreiter”, set to music by Hugo Distler, who was presented expressively by the choir with intensive density and engaging dynamic variety.

Bernhard Hackmann recited suitably selected texts in a lively manner, including “Aus Feuer ist der Geist geschaffen” by Ernst Moritz Arndt. These offered numerous supplementary perspectives on the basic theme.

In the poem “Vineta” by Wilhelm Müller, set to music by Johannes Brahms, the chamber choir sang with longing melodic swings from the sunken old wonder city. Water as an element of transformation became clear in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ harmonically advanced “Full fathom five”, where the choir depicted the enchanting bell tones of the all-changing nymphs with striking dissonances.

It was extremely impressive to experience the precision and intonation certainty with which the chamber choir created even the densest harmonic structures and overlapping harmonies in the works of the 20th century. In Eric Whitacre’s “Water night” and J. W. Goethe’s “Song of Spirits over Water”, the allegory of water was transformed into manifold images of the human soul.

A Latvian folk song formed the main melody in Erik’s Esenvald’s “Northern Lights” composed in 2012. The singers also used water glasses and bells to colour the enchanting atmosphere of the wonder of the blazing polar lights “on which dreams travel to unknown worlds”.

The light installation by Rainer Martens expressed both elements in the modified basic colours red and blue. Only with the “Northern Lights” did they merge, and at the end the large cross in the sanctuary above the choir had a transforming effect through the flowing light movements.