Britten Sinfonia Polyphony

MICHAEL DRAKE Norwich Cathedral


Norwich Cathedral

With the long, brassy chords of Bruckner's Overture in G minor the BS introduced themselves again to Norwich renewing their partnership with the mixed chamber choir.

How lucky we are to be able to regularly hear such artists and such are their recurring high- class performances it is difficult to find something new to say of them.

After last evening's programme, conducted by the choir's founder Stephen Layton, suffice it to have merely sat back, listened and enjoyed the expected standard.

The Bruckner, with its obvious Beethoven influence, resonated in its emphatic delivery after which, in my book, the first shall be last as the same composer's E minor Mass was a spiritual experience of intense musical beauty and thrilling sounds backed by woodwind and brass. The opening Kyrie was itself vocal magic with soaring sopranos and impeccable balance in beautifully woven texture, both subtle and powerful - qualities so enveloping in the Sanctus Benedictus that it almost hurt to listen.

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And once again the voices pierced the atmosphere in Morten Laurisden's settings of Robert Graves' poems in Mid-Winter Songs (remember his Lux Aeterna two years ago?)

Though the broad acoustic sometimes made it difficult for the choir to rise above the Sinfonia, it was ice-cold and sharp but with snowflake daintiness and winter warmth too in an evocative performance enjoyed by the composer also. But I am still on a cloud mass with Brucker.

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