REVIEW: PLAINSONG TO POLYPHONY: BREMF

PLAINSONG TO POLYPHONY

 St Bartholomew’s Church

BREMF Consort of Voices and The Lacock Scholars
Deborah Roberts director 
Greg Skidmore director 

Sat 28 Oct

St Bart’s rang to music from the 12th to the 16th centuries culminating in the ultimate polyphonic work, Tallis’s 40-part motet Spem in alium. This large gathering of voice had some gentle choreography added to explore  the roots of polyphony in ancient chant melodies.

Starting with a processional chant A solis ortus cardine, which set the tone and atomphere there was a superb rendition of Jacob Obrecht’s Salve Regina full of subtlety and soaring charming notes. After the interval – where we all drifted around in a slow and meditative daze – we had an excellent  Kyrie from Jean Richafort Requiem, powerful and distinct and then ambled  though some English sacred music including an astoundingly beautiful  Robert Fayrfax’s  Magnificat Regale with all voices combined and a trio of elevated sopranos who took this relatively unknown superb piece of Tudor music and sent it impressively up into the high ethereal vaults, then if this magnificence wasn’t enough all the singers progressed to the back of St Bart’s to rejoice in  Talli’s Spem in Alium which was note perfect, filling the space with its rolling suggestive waves of polyphonic bliss.

See the full programme here:

Another superb evening taking advantage of the unique atmosphere and acoustic properties of St Barts, not the easiest venue to produce in, but this combination of passionate and spiritual music directed with a light but forceful touch by Deborah Roberts who kept the discipline needed to make this music feel so effortless, on occasion Roberts was working in tandem with Greg Skidmore, the director of the Lacock  I’m always impressed by the BREMF consort, they continue to improve and excel in productions, some of these works are not the usual fare of a non-professional group of singers,  but with  The Lacock scholars adding their own fine resonances to the evening and bringing a wide texture to the polyphonic magic unfolded that evening.

There were a few moments of unevenness but once the voices had warmed up and relaxed the evening flowed with a boundless enthusiasm.

For more info about the BREMF or to book tickets see their website here:

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