Thursday 27 December 2007

Chapelle du Roi

On Friday we went to one St. John's Smith Square to hear Alistair Dixon and La Chapelle du Roi performing their programme, Christmas at the Chapel Royal. They were performing two movements from Tallis's Missa Puer Natus est Nobis which was probably written for Christmas 1554 for Queen Mary, when it was thought she was pregnant by Philip of Spain. Similarly the superb, and v. grand, motet Suscipe Quaeso was probably written for an earlier state occasion and may well have been performed by choir which included the members of Philip's chapel as the range of the piece is less than the standard range. Besides Tallis, the group also included a couple of Sheppard's Latin Responds, lovely pieces which were also written at this time. Plus a pair of carols.

The group numbered just 9 singers (3 sopranos, 2 male altos, 2 tenors, 2 basses) so for much of the time many of them were singing just 1 to a part. Dixon does not seem to go for a superbly blended sound as in some other English groups, instead we get fine musicianship, a lovely sense of line and a feeling that each voice/line is distinctive. That is not to say that the group don't blend, they do, but sensibly Dixon seems to value the distinctiveness of each of his talented voices.

The other large Tallis piece in the programme was his Te Deum for Meanes, a work which was probably written under Edward VI as it uses an earlier translation of the text. A superb work, given a stirring performance, it made a strong end to the programme.

This was a fine programme, beautifully performed, a good example of intelligent Christmas programming.

On a personal note, I should add that one of the Altos also appears in the eight:fifteen vocal ensemble and is featured on my new disc.

1 comment:

  1. Nice blog. Hope to come by soon. Regards!!


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