Friday 25 January 2019

Super-size masses from the Armonico Consort.

Armonico Consort (photo Chris Hall)
Armonico Consort (photo Chris Hall)
Biber's large-scale Missa Bruxellensis survives in a single copy now housed in the Royal Library in Belgium (hence the work's name). It is anonymous, but has more recently been attributed to Biber (his previous large-scale mass the Missa Salisburgensis was long mis-attributed to another composer, Benevoli). Biber writes on a large scale, two choirs and an instrumental ensemble making as many as 23 parts and this might be music written for Salzburg (where Biber was the Kapellmeister to the Prince-Bishop), but much of it is Venetian in inspiration. 

We don't know for what occasion the Missa Bruxellensis was written, but commentators suggest the 1701 celebrations for the foundation of the Order of St Ruperti, an order of military knights hence the sometimes martial elements in the work.

Christopher Monks and the Armonico Consort are taking on the challenge of this large scale work and performing it with the English Cornett & Sackbutt Ensemble on 26 January 2019 at the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick and on 1 February 2019 at Malvern Theatres. The programme will be completed with a performance of Bach's rather more intimate Easter Oratorio.

The group will be staying large scale for its concert at the Lighthouse, Poole on 2 February 2019, when joined by the choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, director Dr Geoffrey Webber, they will be returning to Striggio's 60-part Missa Ecco Si Beato Giorno [which the group has recorded for Signum] alongside Tallis' Spem in Alium, a 40-part work partly inspired by the Striggio.

Still large scale but from a more recent period, Monks and the Armonico Consort will be joined by young singers from the AC Academies Choirs to perform Carl Orff's Carmina Burana at Warwick Arts Centre on 1 March 2019.

Full details from the Armonico Consort website.

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