Friday, October 23

MYSTERY, TRANSFORMATION AND CELEBRATION – BREMF Consort of Voices, Deborah Roberts (director)

- December 8, 2019

BCofV are always excellent, so what more is there to say? Well, they opened with two motets by Lassus and Jacob Handl, both stately and elegant, but the third was so weird I thought they’d had a major failure – of course not! It’s just that Handl’s unconventional meditation on the mystery of the Incarnation, ‘Mirabile mysterium’, has some very, very strange musical moments – think Gesualdo set by Webern. BCofV’s confidence of pitch and intelligent phrasing made this awkward composition sound fascinating.

The rest of this well planned programme concurred with this year’s Brighton Early Music Festival’s theme of change. There were more surprises nestling among the array of more typical Advent music. Particularly successful was Melchior Franck’s ‘Praeter rerum seriem’ for eight parts including a clarion soprano cantus firmus that was sung at the back of the church away from the choir. The effect was thrilling. The whole programme was a delightful mix of austere, of calm and of penitential works, culminating in some joyful alleluias for Christmas.

St Paul’s Church,
7 December 2019
Rating: ★★★★½
Andrew Connal

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