Cantate Domino ~ 14th March 2015 ~ Ely Methodist Church

If you weren’t able to attend, then here’s what you missed with our review from Graeme Curry:

In the early seventeenth century, the English traveller Thomas Coryat toured Europe and reported back on the music he heard. The Ely Consort’s audience went on a similar tour of baroque music in Ely Methodist Church on Saturday night, all without having to leave the comfort of their (nicely padded) chairs.
Like Coryat, Saturday night’s programme lingered in Italy, with works by Monteverdi, Viadana, Gabrieli and Lotti. Conductor Matthew Rudd and his choir were always alert to the drama in the music of the Italian baroque. This was particularly evident in the agonised suspensions and shattering climax of Antonio Lotti’s Crucifixus, a setting of the section of the Nicene Creed that describes the crucifixion.

Split into two choirs, the singers also captured to thrilling effect the striking polychoral writing of Giovanni Gabrieli. He composed Jubilate Deo for the vast spaces of St Mark’s, Venice, with his two choirs facing each other from high lofts, and the performance here captured the splendour of that building.

The programme was built around a performance of J S Bach’s monumental motet Singet dem Herrn, ‘Sing to the Lord a new song’. This took the audience from Venice to the Leipzig of a century later. The piece is so demanding, Rudd explained, that amateur choirs across the country are divided into those that have performed Singet and those that haven’t. This choir triumphantly placed itself into the former category. The Ely Consort is well suited to this repertoire. The basses provided warm support for the rest of the lines, and the clear sound of the upper parts brought out the many different textures of Bach’s motet. The spacious acoustic of the church demanded steady tempi, but these gave the singers room to display the virtuosity of Bach’s choral writing.

Two movements of Bach’s double violin concerto, played by Barbara Barker and Hannah Vincent, ably accompanied by John Heley, cello; were an added bonus for the audience and gave the collective larynx of the Ely Consort a well-earned rest.

Coryat’s musical journey ended back in England, and so did this one – here with a rousing performance of Zadok the Priest, written for the 1727 coronation of George II in Westminster Abbey, and sung at every coronation since.


Review: Graeme Curry

Photo: Nick Kerry

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