BREMF – The ‘Contenance Angloise’ – BREMF Consort of Voices, Deborah Roberts (director)

Deborah Roberts scored another brilliant success with this afternoon concert of the mind-bendingly complex compositions of the English influencers in 15th-century Europe. A few years ago the loyal BREMF audience might have found this programme too obscure but these days they have no trouble with Leonel Power or John Dunstable, Englishmen who were ranked among the top composers in Europe, alongside the great Guillaume Dufay. This concert also included a rarely heard motet by Walter Frye. Such richly textured music demanded the fullest concentration from the audience or else enabled escape into that blissful reverie which elaborate polyphony can generate. For the singers it was an hour of the strictest counting, steady tone and demanding breath control. These early Renaissance composers were very hard on their choirs!

While the soprano and alto parts skipped and frolicked in gleeful rhythms, the lower voices were frequently obliged to sustain very slow chords, often on high notes or just on the break of voice, sometimes even in different time signatures. The BREMF CoV seemed to have no problems with all these challenges, and sounded as well balanced and clear at the end as at the start of the concert.

St Paul’s Church
4 May 2024


Andrew Connal

Leonel Power c.1380–1445 : Ave maris stella
John Dunstable 1390-1453 : Veni sancte spiritus /Veni creator spiritus
Anonymous : L’homme armé
Guillaume Dufay 1397-1474 : Missa L’homme armé: Kyrie and Gloria
Dunstable : Descendi in hortum meum
Walter Frye d. c.1474 : Salve Virgo mater pia
Dunstable : Gaude virgo – Virgo mater
Dufay : Missa Sancti Jacobi: Alleluia

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