The King's Singers

CHRISTOPHER SMITH St Peter Mancroft, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

> St Peter Mancroft, Norwich

Once again the King's Singers lived up to their reputation so a large audience at St Peter Mancroft was able to sit back and thoroughly enjoy an imaginative and varied programme of unaccompanied vocal music that spanned ages and styles with apparently effortless skill.

First, as if to establish their credentials, the six smartly dressed singers reminded us of their origins as members of one of the country's finest college choirs with Elizabethan sacred music.

The longing and lamentation in Thomas Tallis's fine settings of Jeremiah made all the more impact by comparison with William Byrd's Triumphalism.

The texts were in Latin, but flexibility in interpretation brought out the different moods.

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Attitudes change for three secular songs from the Spanish Renaissance. Dancing and prancing naturally soon gave way to soft serenading.

Then some lily-livered sailors gave voice to every emotion as their ship sank. They managed to scramble to safety, salvaging nothing but an out-of-tune guitar.

Just a few expressive gestures added to the fun, but, as always, the emphasis was on vocal expertise.

Patterson's Time Piece brought the Bible story of creation up to modern times.

Humming and strange harmonies captured the music of the spheres, and everything was lovely in the Garden of Eden until Adam got a wrist-watch. Not a word or sound was lost in the witty text.

In more traditional vein, Stanford's Beati Quorum was performed with loving attention to nuance, and every ounce of Victorian sentimentality was wrung out of Sullivan's Long Day Closes.

All that was lacking from this splendid concert was genuinely modern music; a single example would have been better than another lollipop.

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