- October 22, 2021
Deborah Roberts, Artistic Director of the Brighton Early Music Festival (BREMF), brought her elite choir back to reprise June’s brilliant concert in the excellent acoustic of St Martin’s. The effect was quite predicable, a blissful improvement on an already very fine experience. The cheerful chords of Josquin’s ‘Gaude virgo’ filled the church with a balanced sound, each part distinct and richly resonant. As the music became more and more elaborate the clarity was maintained. The first half ended with a plea for peace from Josquin’s second ‘Armed Man Mass’. The elegant shaping of each phrase receded into a hushed ending, broken only by the premature applause of the enthusiastic audience.
The second half was no less delightful, starting with the Christmastide antiphon ‘Præter rerum seriem’ which led into Josquin’s great six-part motet, demonstrating his exceptional skill in building on plainchant themes.
The two memorials on the death of Josquin illustrate the high esteem he had earned from his colleagues. Fayrfax’s extended ‘Magnificat’ provided a monumental finale. The sopranos had the advantage of the acoustic, soaring above the rich ensemble making the most of Fayrfax’s elaborate setting.
These two composers died 500 years ago and both were regarded as the best of their profession. This programme allowed us to compare their styles, the sedate pan-European Josquin and the extravagant filigree of Fayrfax. I enjoy both equally, especially when they are performed so well.
St Martin’s Church,
21st October, 2021