Wednesday 5 September 2012

Choral at Cadogan

Choral at Cadogan 2012/13 Among Angels
The Choral at Cadogan concert series started in 2008 and since then they have presented a wide range of artists in some fascinating programmes of generally unaccompanied choral music. The concert series has built up steady support from the Cadogan Hall audience and recent programmes have been very well supported. But sometimes I have felt that the series has seemed a little under-valued in the wider musical community. Cadogan Hall is an excellent medium sized venue with a nice, not too resonant acoustic which responds well to small choral groups. The programming in Choral at Cadogan has always been varied enough to provide something for everyone whilst not shying away from some good meaty early polyphony to attract nuts like myself. Last night, 4 September, there was the 2012/13 season launch with a short performance from the Tallis Scholars and an introduction to the season by Peter Phillips who is artistic director of Choral at Cadogan.

The series opens on 24 October with Peter Philips and the Tallis Scholars performing a programme entitled The Day of Thy Power which focuses on the Missa Tecum principium by the early Tudor composer Robert Fayrfax. It is a very substantial mass setting, and requires some very virtuoso singing so this is an undoubted treat. The programme will be completed with both sets of Thomas Tallis's Lamentations; Fayrfax was in fact a great influence on Tallis.

Peter Phillips crops up again in a different guise at the second concert on 27 November when he and Ben Nicholson direct the choir of Merton College in An Oxford Advent. The choir in its present form is quite a young foundation, Phillips and Nicholson created it in 2008. Their concert presents music for Advent, with three Marian Antiphons by Victoria, Britten's Hymn to the Virgin, Poulenc's Salve Regina and a performance of the Seven Magnificat Anthems commissioned by Merton College. These set the great O Anthems, with each being set by a different composer. The choices of composer are eclectic and intriguing; Howard Skempton, John Tavener, Rihards Dubra, Gabriel Jackson, Cecilia McDowall, Matthew Martin and Eriks Esenvalds.

December 13 sees Westminster Abbey choir, under James O'Donnell, making a rare London appearance outside the abbey. They are performing Britten's A Ceremony of Carols along with music by Byrd, Victoria, Praetorius, Warlock, Wishart, Dove and Chilcott. Essential listening I think.

I Fagiolini make a welcome reappearance at the Cadogan Hall on 8 February with Insalata I Fagiolini, a musical banquet of secular Renaissance pieces which culminates in four madrigals from Monteverdi's Fourth Book of Madrigals. Some of the pieces are staged so expect a lively, entertaining and thought provoking evening.

The only accompanied concert of the season, Tenebrae and the English Chamber Orchestra give a programme centred the music of Will Todd on 4 April 2013. Alongside Todd they will perform Bernstein's Chichester Psalms and Elgar's part-song There is Sweet Music which is striking partly because it is bit-tonal with two choirs in two keys.

On 24 April 2013, Alamire bring a programme of Tudor polyphony with a delectable selection of pieces by Lambe, Taverner, Sheppard, Tye, Tallis and Byrd. The programme charts the development of English sacred music from the great Early Tudor polyphony to the music for the first English prayer book in 1549 and the revival of Latin polyphony under Mary I.

The final concert of the season, on 29 May 2013, celebrates both the 40th birthday of the Tallis Scholars and Gesualdo's 400th anniversary with a typically eclectic programme of Gesualdo, Lassus, Gallus, De Wert, Appenzelier, De Rore, Hassler, Zielenski and Monteverdi.

Further details from the Cadogan Hall website, and there are generous series discounts. See you there!

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