Monday 22 March 2010

Choir of Trinity College at the Cadogan Hall

On Thursday we were at the Cadogan Hall for a concert by the choir of Trinity College, Cambridge conducted by their director Stephen Layton. The choir is a mixed one, with female sopranos, female and male altos, and numbers some 30 singers, mostly undergraduates at the college (some looking alarmingly young).

The group made a lovely clear, light transparent sound. I wanted a bit more weight in Bach's Komm, Jesu, komm where the light textures and Layton's speeds combined to make the work tell less than usual. But the group of early English motets from Tallis, Parsons and Bird seemed to suit the choir's style better. However, I thought that they seemed most at home in the final item in the first half, Stanford's three Latin motets (Justorum Animae, Beati quorum via and Coelos ascendit hodie). These were actually written for Trinity Choir (presumably when it had boys on the top line) and seemed to find the young singers most at home in Stanford's style.

In the second half we had an interesting and attractive group of 20th century pieces, concentrating on the Baltic and Poland. Arvo Pärt's Bogoroditse Djevo found him in rather lively mood. John Tavener's contemplative Mother of God here I stand comes from his mammoth Veil of the Temple which Layton premiered with the Temple Choir. Then Urmas Sisask's dynamic and lively Benedictio where the choir obviously enjoyed Sisask's jazzy rhythms and they made light of the trickiness of the piece. Pavel Lukaszewski's Ave Maria and Vytautas Miskinis's Angelis suis Deus completed the Baltic/Polish group.

Then followed two movements from Morten Lauridsen's Nocturnes. The choir obviously enjoyed performing the music and it is well crafted, but frankly it sounded just like quite a few other Lauridsen pieces. Gustav Holst's Nunc Dimittis was an austere relief. Finally we had Eric Whitacre's rather lovely Sleep.

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