"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Monday, November 27, 2017
THE OLIVE BRANCH
Christophers and The Sixteen
at Chelmsford Cathedral
seventeenth Choral Pilgrimage, and once again Chelmsford is lucky
enough to be on their camino.
programme this year is a blend of Palestrina and Poulenc, two
composers separated by more than 300 years, each writing in a very
different musical idiom. But both creators of sacred choral music
that is sublime, expressing a deep personal belief.
bookends were both Salve Reginas – Poulenc’s tender setting to
start, in a beautifully balanced, perfectly enunciated performance,
and Palestrina’s renaissance masterpiece to end, performed with the
polish and commitment familiar from the series of recordings devoted
to this composer - “allowing Palestrina to breathe”, as Harry
Christophers puts it.
a fruitful combination, providing new perspectives on each of these
giants of choral music. But it is the Poulenc that is the real
revelation here – the “moine” and the “voyou” in
Rostand’s familiar phrase. Although one of the finest things on
offer was the secular “Un Soir de Neige”, written during the
final Christmas of the war, it was the “moine” who was most in
evidence, in the exquisite Agnus Dei [from the Mass in G of 1937],
and the Four Motets from a year or so later, excitingly varied in
their approach, and beautifully shaped by
with the silences given due weight.
imaginative pairing for the 2018 Pilgrimage – Benjamin Britten and
the Tudor composer[s] William Cornish. Sacred and Profane begins its
journey on March 14 in St Alban’s. At the time of writing, no sign
of Chelmsford on their tour schedule ...