Just a glance at the programme just before the concert started was enough to make us go ‘Ooh, look, Palestrina, Josquin de Prez, Rachmaninov – and that’s just the first half! Then the choir entered the Church but went to the west end of the Church to sing the first item – behind us! Anticipation, waiting, ……..the first chord of the Ave Maria signalled that we were in for a treat. Beautiful harmonies, clear diction, soaring soprano lines, music to ‘get lost in’.
The choir sang the following a capella sacred music:
Ave Maria – Josquin de Prez
Missa Brevis – Palestrina
Four Motets – Poulenc
Salve Regina – Liszt
Bogoroditse Devo – Rachmaninov
The first half was truly wonderful and as the interval started you could hear the buzz of the audience as (I presume) they talked about their enjoyment of the concert so far. We both know the Bogoroditse Devo very well and we were able to appreciate the choir’s accuracy, attention to detail and dynamics.
The concert continued with a programme of secular music:
Agnus Dei – Barber
My love dwelt in a northern land – Elgar
O Mirtillo – Monteverdi
Il est bel et bon – Passerau
My soul, there is a country – Parry
Hymn for Athene – Taverner
Four songs – Finzi, including My Spirit Sang All Day
Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day? - Lindberg
As Dai Evans said to the audience as he thanked the choir at the end, ”it’s probably the first time anything by Passerau has been performed in Stony Stratford!” We were treated to a feast of fine music and we certainly would welcome their return.
This account of the Luminatus concert 'Harmonies of Heaven and Earth - sacred and secular masterpieces of choral music' on 18 March 2017 is by David Scrutton with photos by Jeff Wright