Licence to thrill: Keswick Hall Choir’s impressive performance

Review: Christopher Smith enjoys the latest performance by the popular Keswick Hall Choir


United Reformed Church,

Princes Street,


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The forty singers of Christopher Duarte’s Keswick Hall Choir responded with the expertise and understanding we have come to expect in a programme of unaccompanied music written for performance in Italy or inspired by its great tradition.

Real skill and flexibility was revealed in the interpretation of a Mass by Lassus. Designed for performance in church, it did not linger to make its effects, so there was a premium on instant response whether in prayers for mercy or moments of rejoicing. The Sanctus was particularly telling.

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Carlo Gesualdo’s Responsories for the Holy Week liturgy were deeply impressive too. The emotionally charged texts always had the right urgent edge to them.

Interest in Allegri’s Miserere was enhanced because Christopher Duarte had gone to the trouble of preparing a more authentic edition. Including more variety and some ornament, it retained the mesmerising power of the well-known version, and the contrast between the sturdy chorus and the soaring line above became even more thrilling.

Representing the secular side of Italian culture, madrigals by Monteverdi and the Californian composer Morten Lauridsen gave the choir yet more opportunities to reveal vocal agility and confident versatility in demanding works.

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