Review of Bach and Lauridsen Concert

Review of PSC concert


A concert by Perth Symphonic Chorus  conducted by Margaret Pride always presents a programme full of interest, whether it be a performance of Messiah (always with new glimpses of this great work) or pieces new to Perth audiences, as on Sunday last: Lux Aeterna by the American composer Morten Lauridsen. The text’ partly from the Requiem Mass, is described by the composer as embodying ‘timeless, wondrous  words about Light – a universal symbol of illumination at all levels’ . How fitting then that this work was presented in the extraordinarily beautiful chapel of Christ Church Grammar School, the wall of which behind the altar, looks down onto the waters of the glorious Swan River, on this occasion reflecting and glowing in the afternoon light of autumn.

Indeed, the nature of water and of light is not too far-fetched when describing the form of Lauridens’ transcendental work for choir and orchestra. The piece evolves from small motives derived  largely from plainsong repertoire and brought together in ever-changing patterns, some long, some short as though propelled by the gentle or powerful force of tidal movement. Its haunting – almost mystical  – expression was beautifully conveyed by the choir whose mellow tones could rise to more dramatic ones when needed. It’s no wonder that the performance we heard had the ring of rapport and understanding that led us into the depth of the work, for Margaret Pride had studied with the composer and  with conductor to whom the work is dedicated – Paul Salamunovich.


This contemporary work – making considerable demands on both performers and listeners was balanced by some of Bach’s loveliest cantatas, including the famous movement popularly known in its English translation ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’. We were brought closer to Bach and his time through illustrations on screen of the towns and cities where these two cantatas were composed and performed, and by comments by Dr Pride before their performance.

Needless to say, the programme was enhanced by the eloquent singing of soloists Sarah Macliver and Paull-Anthony Keightley, as well as by Paul Wright and the fine orchestra under his direction, not least in the 3rd Brandenburg Concerto.


David Tunley