'The following tracks are some musical highlights from my last ten years with SCO and SCO Chorus. The Chorus is so lucky to work with the wonderful musicians of the SCO and with a wide range of international conductors, performing extraordinary works by amazing composers every season. The music chosen is just a small glimpse of some of the sublime music we have had the privilege to sing. I hope you enjoy.'
Gregory Batsleer, SCO Chorus Director
No 1:Bach, B minor Mass, BWV 232: Kyrie Eleison
Bavarian Radio Chorus, Peter Dijkstra
The Chorus sang this gargantuan work a few years ago. The B Minor Mass is without doubt one of the greatest musical masterpieces ever compiled. With its crashing opening and subsequent deliciously lyrical chorus, the Kyrie provides a wonderful first chapter to this amazing work.
No 2: Handel, Solomon: Act 1 Scene 2, No 22 Chorus 'May no rash intruder disturb their soft hours'
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Daniel Reuss
Handel is a composer that is very close to my and the Chorus' heart and we’re lucky to perform many of his large-scale works. Coming at the end of the first part of Solomon, the ‘Nightingale Chorus’ is probably my favourite of all Handel choruses. The words are utterly sublime and Handel is able to capture the essence of them through glorious melody and phrasing. Be sure to listen out for the flutes soaring above the orchestra, wonderfully imitating nightingales.
No 3: Handel, Jephtha, HWV 70 Act III: 'Waft her, angels'
Classical Opera / The Mozartists, Ian Page
One of the proudest moments of the last 10 years was the Chorus’ debut performance at the BBC Proms last summer, performing Handel’s Jeptha with our good friend Richard Egarr. Though there are many thrilling choruses in this work, it’s this aria (sung by Allan Clayton in our Prom) that often steals the show. Again, the utter genius of Handel’s melodic writing is on display, creating complete beauty from seeming simplicity.
No 4: Haydn, Die Jahreszeiten, Hob. XXI:3 Der Sommer: 12. Terzett und Chor, 'Sie steigt herauf, die Sonne'
Orchestre des Champs-Élysées, Philippe Herreweghe
Haydn is another composer that is very dear to the chorus and whose works we often perform. This chorus from The Seasons, (the Chorus’ first concert with Maxim, performed in October 2018 when he was Principal Conductor Designate) depicts the amazement and joy of the sunrise. More than any other composer I know, Haydn writes with a great beaming smile within his music. You can almost feel the warmth of the sun in this uplifting chorus.
No 5: Haydn, Mass in B Flat, 'Harmoniemesse', Hob.XXII:14 Dona nobis
Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, John Eliot Gardiner
Earlier this year I celebrated 10 years with SCO and SCO Chorus by conducting Haydn’s ‘Harmony’ Mass in concert. It was one of the most enjoyable musical weeks of my career. The 'Dona Nobis pacem' is full of such vivacity and joy. Coming at the end of the work, it is Haydn’s very own romp for peace.
No 6: Mozart, Mass in C minor K.427: 'Et incarnatus est'
Le Concert d'Astrée, Louis Langrée
The C minor Mass by Mozart is a great favourite of the Chorus. This movement for solo soprano always makes me laugh. It is Mozart at his most musically flirtatious. The vocal writing is incredibly seductive, particularly in its interactions with the solo flute and oboe. You can really hear that Mozart totally fancied the person he composed it for!
No 7: Beethoven, Missa Solemnis in D major, Op. 123: III. Credo
Orchestre des Champs-Élysées, Philippe Herreweghe
This piece is without question one of most virtuosic pieces a chorus can tackle. When we scaled this giant a few years ago, it was this movement in particular that floored me every time. The vast array of colours and changing of textures throughout are truly transcendent. Added to this, the completely bonkers fugue that comes at the end always seems to me as though Beethoven is single-handedly trying to revolutionise all music that has come before. This piece is both terrifying and thrilling to take on.
No 8: Brahms, German Requiem, Op.45: V. 'Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit'
Monteverdi Choir, ORR, John Eliot Gardiner
One of the weeks I’m most looking forward to next Season is the German Requiem with Maxim – one of the most uplifting and hopeful works ever written. This movement, from the middle of the work, offers a moment of motherly calm in which we are given comfort for our sorrows. It is definitely the movement for the weepers in the audience….
No 9: Berlioz, L'enfance du Christ: Troisième Partie L'Arrivée À Saïs, Epilogue (Le Récitant, Choeur)
La Chapelle Royale, Collegium Vocale, Orchestre des Champs-Élysées, Philippe Herreweghe
We performed this work with Robin Ticciati in my very first season with the Chorus. The work is so wonderfully full of the orchestral colour and invention associated with Berlioz. In the Epilogue, Berlioz provides us with a moment of true intimacy and reflection. He ends this wonderful and devout work by going inwards, writing an unaccompanied number in which the tenor soloist and then the Chorus look into their hearts for love to lift them to the gates of heaven.
No 10: MacMillan, Seven Last Words from the Cross: 'Verily, I say unto thee, today thou shalt be with me in Paradise'
Dmitri Ensemble, Graham Ross
A lot of our singers would probably point to last Season’s performances of Seven Last Words, with James Macmillan conducting, as their all-time singing highlight in the Chorus. It’s hard to argue with this. It was a really special moment for us all. In this third movement, you can hear within the music just how devoted to the text and its spiritual values Jimmy is. The movement ends with two high angelic sopranos leaving us to contemplate a higher being than ourselves.
No 11: Tallis, Spem in alium
Oxford Camerata, Jeremy Summerly
The Chorus’ a capella performances in Edinburgh’s Greyfriars Kirk have now become an import part of our work. Very recently we performed a programme that included Tallis’s iconic 40-part motet Spem in Alium to a sold-out Kirk. It was such a humbling experience for me to hear and see the singers of this remarkable Chorus perform this magnificent work with such commitment and beauty. I know it was a real highlight for the singers too.
DESERT ISLAND DISCS WITH STEVE KING
7 September 2020What would you take to a desert island? We've asked players to share their ultimate soundtrack - next up we have Viola Steve King
DESERT ISLAND DISCS WITH HARRY JOHNSTONE
14 July 2020What would you take to a desert island? We asked people to share their ultimate soundtrack. Next up we've SubPrincipal Horn Harry Johnstone
DESERT ISLAND DISCS WITH MATILDA BROWN
16 June 2020What would you take to a desert island? We asked people to share their ultimate soundtrack - next up we have Composer Matilda Brown