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Friday, 01 August 2014

Review: Brampton Chamber Choir and Eden Brass, Lanercost Priory

The Easter story, which charts the depths of both human sorrow and human joy, has inspired profoundly beautiful and moving music down the ages.

Brampton Chamber Choir, true to its long and faithful tradition, gave a performance on Saturday of music by Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, Robert Parsons, Charles Stanford and Charles Wood – composers convinced beyond doubt of the historical accuracy of the Christmas and Easter stories, and the salvation they offer – in the similarly inspiring surroundings of Lanercost Priory.

This music transcends religious belief, providing listeners of all persuasions or none with a precious opportunity to touch sorrow and joy personally, and realise the commonality of human experience. Notable moments of touchable sorrow were the full choir’s dona nobis pacem (‘give us peace‘) in Byrd’s four-part mass, and the consort’s ‘Ierusalem, Ierusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum’ (‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, turn to the Lord your God‘) in Tallis’s Lamentations of Jeremiah – both as relevant today for the people of Homs as they were for William Byrd’s catholic exile in the terror of newly protestant England, and for Jeremiah surrounded by the ruination of Jerusalem.

At other moments we were sung into pure joy – by the excitement of the bass entry et resurrexit (‘and he rose from the dead‘) in the mass, and by the Amen! of Parsons’ Ave Maria, launched with a confident full-toned alto lead, then built by the whole choir to a unanimous certainty that all will be well.

These were times when the singers clearly understood and were passionately convinced by the music they were singing. Passion is hard to sustain, for example through a long mass, and at other times the singing, though always correct and in tune, sacrificed feeling to precision.

The five-part consort, never short on passion, must surely be one of the finest small groups performing early music at any level.

Jerry King’s excellent programme notes, with extensively researched historical detail, supported the audience to connect with the music.

The Eden Brass quartet provided wonderfully resonant and tuneful contributions to the evening’s rich experience, notably a deeply graceful performance of The Earl of Salisbury’s Pavan by Byrd.

Brampton is blessed with remarkable musical talent.

 

 

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