Wednesday, April 11, 2012

REVIEW: Die Singphoniker - Just Songs! (Taipei)

Taipei National Concert Hall, Sunday April 1

In Asia, you might hear the name of the British male a cappella group King’s Singers before the German group Die Singphoniker; and this is primarily because the King’s Singers have been singing since 1968, while Die Singphoniker started in 1982. Most importantly; however, is that the recordings of the King’s Singers have always been easier to find. I think I own my first Singphoniker CD 5 years ago, while have been enjoying the King’s Singers since more than 20 years ago.

For this trip to Taiwan, I was able to catch Die Singphoniker at the Taipei National Concert Hall celebrating their 30th anniversary. They were also joined by the Taipei Male Choir, celebrating their 15th anniversary for the premiere of Enjott Schneider’s The Fire of Innocence in the Darkness of World.

The first half of the concert started with What a Wonderful This Would Be and proceeded with a varied programme that ranged from Dowland to Sting. The group brought me straight back to Berlin where I saw a musical about the Comedian Harmonists. The ensemble possessed a warm and colorful voice that expressed each song with great clarity. The balance was fine, but the sonority can be tighter. Peculiarly, I find the counter-tenor (Markus Geitner) and tenor (Daniel Schreiber) voices a tad too bright, while the bass (Christian Schmidt) line lacked more weight. Having said that, in songs where the tenor took on the melody and the rest of the group accompanied him, Schreiber was amazing. Schreiber sang with purity of voice and passion of heart.

The first half finished with Schneider’s The Fire of Innocence in the Darkness of World: Symphonic Poem for Soloists, Choir and Organ. Here, the Taipei Male Choir took on the role of the choir, while Die Singphoniker took up the various solo parts. Berno Scharpf of Die Singphoniker played the organ. Overall, it was a fine piece of music and I particularly find the combination and treatment of the voices most effective in conveying the text of William Blake. The strength of the works lies on Schneider’s ability to paint with sounds. My personal favorite was The Sick Rose where Geitner led with great intricacy.

The second half was once again a combination of songs. Unfortunately, this time, the programme was not listed in the book; thus I was busy writing them down. Comparatively, the mood was definitely lighter than the first half and the audience was most receptive. The evening closed with enthusiastic applause and call for more and Die Singphoniker didn’t disappoint.



What a wonderful world this would be
I love, alas, I love thee
Here comes the flood
I'vo piagendo
Sister Moon
Come heavy sleep
Dámours me va

The fire of innocence in the darkness of world: Symphonic poem for soloists, choir and organ

- interval -

I'll be there
All mein Gedanken, die ich hab
Scarborough fair
Obladi, oblada
Je mis, je meurs
I wanna hold your hand
Overture of barber of seville

- encore -

Fly me to the moon
Marry a woman uglier than you

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