The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Philadelphia Inquirer
By Daniel Webster

“The sacred and the cute mix in Vienna Choir Boys’ concert”

A glimpse into the centuries-old tradition of the singing school came in the opeing group of sacred seasonal anthems, and in the Britten work. Britten manages medieval textural echoes through music alive with rhythmic vivacity and harmonic tartness.

In the piece, a single harp suggests the mood and resonance of the sections that follow, and The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Elizabeth Hainen brought finely focused, eloquent playing to the work. Her refined sense of dynamics contrasted with that of the singers, who countered with precision but less expressive musical probing.

The ensemble began the concert in procession, singing a Gregorian chant, then moved into sections of a Mass composed by Britten and music by Joseph Haydn and Michael Haydn. In these selections the singers displayed a keen sense of intonation, and conductor Raoul Gehringer built his reading with attention to the groups of voices.