Escorial Choir

MICHAEL DRAKE Norwich Cathedral

MICHAEL DRAKE

These singers do not often appear as Escorial but nevertheless produced a high class of mixed voice choral expertise last evening, though it was Timothy Patient at the chamber organ who laid elegant and colourful foundations with Byrd's The Woods so Wild.

At the far east end of the building perhaps some of the items were not heard to best effect in the wide cathedral spaces, although director Christopher Duarte kept a sensible pace in the quieter passages. Much more neat and precise, with subtle dynamic range, was Byrd's Though Amaryllis Dance and despite the bells chiming reluctantly in Full Fathom Five, Vaughan Williams' harmonies spilled over into the Cloud Capp'd Towers.

Britten's way with words was given full rein, with the choir mostly keeping the continuity through the various visions of the Hymn to St Cecilia.

Lacking some conviction until the Qui tollis section, Brummel's Gloria was a real sound tapestry.

In contrast and on the main organ, progressive registration added imagery to Messiaen's Apporition.

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The whole was fully deserving of the encore, Estonian composer Dubra's Audiverent Quia.