Exaudi and Alfred Brendel

MICHAEL DRAKE Orford Church (Aldeburgh Festival)


Orford Church (Aldeburgh Festival)

A day of contrasts on Saturday. In the afternoon at Orford Church the brilliant choir ranged from light hearted madrigals to sounds of the 20th century; in the evening, a well loved keyboard maestro offered the classical and romantic.

With a dozen outstanding voices in various combinations the Exaudi ensemble conducted by its founder James Weeks, whether in renaissance or this century's music, their sounds were stunning. Some harmonies in Gesualdo's Three Tenebrae Responses would not have been out of place in today's music as was the case too in the beginning of Sciarrino's 2001 composition based on these same responses when the word “soulful” came to mind.

Fellow Italian Castiglioni's “Hymne” was notable for the ice-clear soprano tone and overall vocal colouring of the brightest hues and Sceisi's powerful and rhythmic Tre canti not entirely divorced from Castiglioni.

However Luigi Nono's serialistic Sara dolce was difficult to relate to the text in its collection of sound

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waves - none of it readily communicative music. Personally I shall remember more Monteverdi's Adoramus te, full of spirituality and his extrovert Beatus Vir Secondo and brightly sung.

The evening brought another riveting performance from Alfred Brendel on a dramatic dark stage and in all the works his timing in giving anticipatory musical spaces and very deliberate resolutions were continuous features.

Haydn's Sonata in C minor was enough for anyone needing some calm moments while Mozart's, also in C minor, danced through the first movement and the finale seemed on another plane which the listener was privileged to enter.

Alfred Brendel is not an animated showman but his music does not need that as the enthusiastic reception acknowledged.

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