Monday 22 December 2008

La Chapelle du Roi at St. Johns Smith Square

On Saturday Chapelle du Roi, conductor Alistair Dixon, gave their programme The Marriage of England and Spain as part of the St. Johns Smith Square Christmas Festival. The centre-piece of the programme was the pair of motets by Philippe de Monte and William Byrd. De Monte set 4 verses from Psalm 137 (By the Rivers of Babylon) and sent the motet to Byrd. It was de Monte's way of commiserating with the suppression of Catholics in England. Byrd responded with his motet Quomodo cantabimus which set other verses from the same psalm. A wonderfully powerful pairing.

On the English side we also got Sheppard's lovely respond, Reges Tharsis and Tallis's Beati immaculati. On the Spanish side there was Victoria's O Magnum Mysterium, Guerrero's Alma Redemptoris and O Domine Jesu. The concert finished with Victoria's lovely 8-part Alam redemptoris mater.

The choir numbered only 8 singers, but managed to make a lovely rich sound, especially in the Spanish pieces.

But of course, there was one other item in the programme. My own Puer natus est nobis, the motet for the 3rd Mass on Christmas Day from Tempus per Annum. The work's style fitted in well with the programme (which also included medieval carols), and showed that the motets from the collection work beautifully when sung by singers used to polyphony and plainchant. Dixon's speeds in my motet were not what I had quite envisaged, but he managed to find something hauntingly beautiful in the piece.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts this month