The Stondon Singers at the Priory Church Blackmore
Two Requiems were at the heart of the contrasts, presented by the Stondon Singers under Christopher Tinker.
First, the richly textured Requiem Mass for Six Voices of Tomas Luis de Victoria, written four hundred years ago in the Golden Age of Polyphony. The Singers began behind us, at the West End; the voices were blended and balanced perfectly for this evocative acoustic – the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei seemed to grow organically from a single stem. The mass was followed by two extracts from the same composer's Office of the Dead, ending with the substantial Libera Me. A superbly moving sequence – it deserved a much larger audience.
Herbert Howells' Requiem, composed in 1954, and given its amateur première by this very choir, includes only two settings from the traditional mass, amongst Psalms and a final word from Revelation: I heard a voice from heaven saying … blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, for they rest from their labours. The Singers' performance of this challenging work was notable for some fine solo work, subtle harmonies and the calm resolution of the close.
After these two sombre works, the last contrast was provided by Britten's Choral Dances from Gloriana – a peal of bells for Time, serenity for Concord, and a lively Homage to the Old Queen to finish.
image by Nick Robinson