Classy choir harmonise with polyphony

MICHAEL DRAKE The Glory of English Polyphony rang out in harmony in the magnificence of the church as Sir John Elliot Gardiner lovingly directed 20 superb voices through this rich period of musical history — the whole might well be summed up in their performance of Byrd's Sing Joyfully.

MICHAEL DRAKE

The Glory of English Polyphony rang out in harmony in the magnificence of the church as Sir John Elliot Gardiner lovingly directed 20 superb voices through this rich period of musical history — the whole might well be summed up in their performance of Byrd's Sing Joyfully.

This was a cappella singing to savour, for its not often enough that high choral standards reach us in Norfolk.

From the opening Plainsong of Tallis' Telucis to Tomkins' Almighty God, every nuance was brought out in thrilling sounds allied to first-class precision and balance, diction and projection with immaculate pacing but still full of feeling. And even so there were highlights. The first Tallis Lamentations was soul searching, not to say poignant, with today's situation in Jerusalem, and while Robert Whyte's version a5 was not so piercingly effective, there was more strength and passion and worth it just for the final exquisite chord.

Sopranos soared with a pure sound in Taverner's Dum Transisset and Parsons' Ave Maria was a real prayer while Byrd's Mass displayed seamless tempi changes. It was an uplifting evening from an ensemble of world class — a pity that publicity had been somewhat sparse for they deserved to fill more than the nave.

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