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Review: The Sixteen, The Voice of the Turtle Dove at Norwich Cathedral

10:49 16 May 2014

NNF14 - The Sixteen.

NNF14 - The Sixteen.

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Under their tirelessly inspirational conductor Harry Christophers, the gifted consort of singers now famed worldwide as The Sixteen paused here in the course of this, their fourteenth Choral Pilgrimage across Britain’s cultural centres.

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The Voice of the Turtle Dove, a quotation from the most lyrical book in the Old Testament, was the title of their programme of music nearly all dating from the first half of the sixteenth century.

Until recently these early works had been neglected. Now we can all enjoy them, performed by unaccompanied voices with superlative confidence and well sustained tone.

Davy, Mundy and Sheppard were the composers of the pieces that we heard. They were settings mostly of Latin texts that they turned into great intricate musical tapestries.

They sounded magnificent beneath the soaring stone vaulting of the cathedral’s nave, making their impact more by overall impression than by a series of individual details.

Picking out particular delights is hard, but chant and Tudor elaboration were mingled to good effect in Sheppard’s Deliver Us, and in Davy’s O Lord Creator there were fascinating hints of the coming of the more restrained style that we associate with the next generation.

The stillness of the audience throughout showed real appreciation as eloquently as its applause at the end.

The Sixteen’s performance on Monday, May 12 was part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival’s music programme.

Christopher Smith

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