Sunday, December 8

BREMF – TRANSFORMERS – BREMF Consort of Voices, Deborah Roberts (director)

- October 28, 2019

Engaging programmes are a hallmark of BREMF and this concert is an excellent example.

Following the festival theme of metamorphosis, we heard a unison chant changed into a sonorous six-part motet which in turn was morphed into an elaborate seven-part setting of the Mass. Such upgrading of tunes was very popular with Renaissance composers but for us to hear the original themes within the new transformed work demands singing of great clarity from an excellent choir. BREMF Consort of Voices, twenty-three talented amateur soloists, is so well blended that no particular voice dominates yet each part is distinct. Deborah Roberts enticed some beautiful dynamic effects from them, especially telling in Senfl’s six-part rendering of Josquin’s ‘Ave Maria’.

Sometimes the original version will always be the best. Josquin’s plaintive ‘Mille regretz’ was sung so beautifully that I’m not sure the masterly works that derived from it were any more than homage.

The concert’s final transformation was a particularly successful arrangement into eleven-parts of that forty-part BREMF favourite, Thomas Tallis’s ‘Spem in alium’. Those forty voices don’t sing together all the time but when they do you just hear an overwhelming wash of sound. Mick Swithinbank’s streamlined version has most of Tallis’s glorious effects without swamping the audience.

St Martin’s Church,
27 October 2019
Rating: ★★★★☆
Andrew Connal




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