The Sixteen: Choral Pilgrimage, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH A Choral Pilgrimage is the attractive title The Sixteen have chosen for a nationwide tour of British cathedrals with a programme of unaccompanied Latin sacred music from the Renaissance.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

A Choral Pilgrimage is the attractive title The Sixteen have chosen for a nationwide tour of British cathedrals with a programme of unaccompanied Latin sacred music from the Renaissance.

In Norwich, they were greeted by a near capacity audience that was scrupulously attentive as well as gratefully enthusiastic.

One of the great strengths of the group, numbering a couple more than 16 on this occasion, was a particular vocal blend that preferred character to blandness.

Unity was delightfully achieved without any loss of apt tonal distinctions between each sub-division of the choir. Individual voices too were allowed freedom of expression, which, apart from a couple of moments of harsh tone from one of the tenors, contributed to magnificent performances.

The director was Harry Christophers, who conducted a small group of accomplished singers with quite surprisingly expansive gestures.

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It included works by English masters, whose works are familiar, and less well-known Continental composers. Philippe de Monte's By The Waters Of Babylon, for instance, made all the more impression as music of mourning in contrast with the open-hearted jubilation of Victoria's Praise The Lord.

There was great beauty too in John Sheppard's deeply-felt In Peace, sung by reduced forces with chant calmly framing the complexities of polyphony.