Delights in Harmony

Norwich Cathedral

> Norwich Cathedral

Sir Thomas Browne was born in London 400 years ago, and educated at Oxford and on the Continent. Then he settled in Norwich and won fame as both physician and a writer.

The actor Jonathan Rea recalled his scholarship and outlook in fluent readings of excerpts from his writings. Reflections on life and death, found expression in great rolling sentences. After fireworks of erudition and strings of stupendous polysyllables, the odd basic Anglo-Saxon word struck home with extra force.

In grand prose and, to be honest, distinctly weaker verse, he wrote movingly on death as a part of human experience not very different from sleep.

Music was added by John Aplin's Keswick Hall Choir, with a string ensemble led by Roderick Rose and David Dunnett at the dull-toned chamber organ. Anthems by Matthew Locke and Henry Purcell had the merit of belonging to the writer's era.

Yet the more modern works took up Browne's favourite themes more directly.

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The singers were at their best in John Tavener's Hymn To The Mother Of God. A seamless texture created a rapt mood.

Gustav Holst's Nunc Dimittis benefited from the fluent interpretation that the sensitive setting deserved.

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