The Valaam Ensemble

MICHAEL DRAKE St Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich


St Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich

How lucky it was for Norwich that this Russian male-voice quintet called into the city on Saturday lunchtime at the end of their UK tour.

The a cappella group of professional singers spend much time at the North Russian monastery after which they are named, researching and performing orthodox spiritual music and much of the programme focused on that, although included were some lighter folk songs.

I cannot recall ever having heard a group of singers with such a wide range, from the first tenor, who frequently soared to soprano heights, to the basso profundo reaching depths of incredible resonance (and his speaking voice was of similar timbre). And all the time the vocal control and dynamics were impeccable.

Although contained within two narrow bands, this did not detract from the skill with which they sang the dozen and a-half items - including encores and what I guess was a drinking song.

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Given the chance, the large audience would certainly have drunk to them.

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