Keswick Hall Choir

MICHAEL DRAKE Norwich Cathedral


> Norwich Cathedral

Half a millennium after his birth, Thomas Tallis still influences choral music – and on Saturday, a thoughtfully constructed programme by the polished KHC demonstrated this. Surprisingly, it was not the Lamentations of Jeremiah which made the impact, but two lesser-known Tallis motets, Suscipe quaeso and Loquebantur, in which the choir's colour and precision, under the direction of John Aplin, were better displayed. And it was particularly poignant in a concert dedicated to the memory of former member, Patrick Heley.

The Lamentations were rather too lusty for me, and there were moments when the renowned precision and musical nuances deserted them, though the ebb and flow of the introductions and refrains were delicately handled, with fine tuning and real spirituality. The strength of KHC is its flexibility, and a leap of four-and-a-half centuries to Peter Aston's Haec Dies had a dramatic and moving quality around the mood-changing organ interludes from David Dunnet (who later impressively built on the programme – linking Howell's Master Tallis's Testament). It was all religiously portrayed with rhythmic variety in a performance which pleased the composer as well.

Vaughan Williams' Mass in G, an English symphony of a mass, contained a joyously pointed Gloria and a real song of praise in the Credo, containing reflective passages, while the final anthem, The Twelve, by William Walton to words by Auden, was always under vocal control. It was an exhilarating evening for a large audience.

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