Friday 10 December 2010

Stile Antico concert report

I was at the Barbican on Wednesday, reviewing Cecilia Bartoli's recital, so unfortunately missed Stile Antico's concert at the Cadogan Hall. Luckily friends were there to report back. Stile Antico are a group of young British singers, on Wednesday they numbered some 13 people, who perform conductorless. An impressive feat in any repertoire, but particularly true in their chosen field of renaissance polyphony. They have recently been touring, supporting Sting in his Dowland lute-song project!

Wednesday's recital centred round Tallis's Missa Puer Natus Est, opening with the plainchant Veni Emmanuel and Tallis's Videte Miraculum, finishing gloriously with John Shepherd's Verbum Caro. The opening to the second half, Taverner's Audivi vocem de caelo was sung rather effectively from the balcony.

A well disciplined group, with brilliant tuning and a sound; the women (sopranos and altos, no counter-tenors) with clear bright voices. The group seem to be genuinely conductorless, rather than one of the singers discreetly taking the lead. This seems to lead to a different type of rapport with the audience, as the singers are concentrating so much more on each other. Their programme provided lots of extended solo passages for different combinations of voices, but the results were admirably homogeneous.

The programme concluded with an encore, a rumbustious account of Byrd's Vigilate.

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