IRISH TIMES – May 2004

IRISH TIMES – May 2004

White Raven Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin

The three voices that make up the White Raven vocal trio are as pleasing as you will hear anywhere.

Tenor David Munderloh, an American whose first professional position was with San Francisco’s outstanding male-voice ensemble Chanticleer, sings with warm purity and easy, unfussy projection. He performs with London’s Consorte of Musicke alongside White Raven’s baritone, Raitis Grigalis, from Latvia. Grigalis matches Munderloh like a vocal clone, just with a deeper register.

The two men arrived in Switzerland in 1999 to study singing at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, where they met the Macroom-born singer and teacher Kathleen Dineen. Dineen, a beautifully clear-voiced soprano with a special interest in medieval, renaissance and Irish traditional music, formed White Raven with Munderloh and Grigalis in 2001. The now nearly three-year-old trio sang at Sunday’s Hugh Lane Gallery concert with a remarkable oneness of breathing, phrasing, enunciation and emphasis. Words were clear, stories told and emotions expressed. Their programme, a change from that advertised and entitled To The Waters And The Wild, ranged from arrangements of Irish traditional songs, including one in sean-nós style, to renaissance love songs to Robert Burns and settings of Yeats.

The three-part arrangements, many of them by Dineen herself, were expertly crafted and delicately effective, mostly in a fauxbourdon style, with the three voices moving up and down together in parallel motion.

The selection they presented on this occasion, while coming close to overdoing the fauxbourdon, was leavened with a few songs in which Dineen accompanied on the piano or harp.

Their lone foray in to music with independent, imitative lines, Va-t-en Regret by the 15th-century French composer Loyset Compère, not only revealed another facet of this exceptional ensemble but also provided some welcome contrast.

Michael Dungan