O Magnum Mysterium  

 

16th December 2011

Parish Church of St John, Wellington

Spanish and Portuguese Renaissance polyphony for Advent & Christmas

Mystery and Beauty - Review submitted by Harold Mead 18/12/2011

The music of the 16th century is for many a closed book, but Peter Leech and the Collegium Singers turned its pages for an appreciative audience in Wellington Church last Friday in their Christmas concert ‘O Magnum Mysterium’.  The evening was built around that responsorial chant from the Matins of Christmas, and settings of it by Victoria, Morales and Morago were included in the programme.

Now expected from Collegium, the concert opened with a processional of great beauty, Victoria’s ‘Conditor Alma Siderum’. Not the easiest of works to sing while moving, the ensemble took a little while to settle down, but as the evening proceeded the choir’s richness of sound and careful attention to dynamics and balance came to the fore.  Many of the items were presented not using the full choir, but by quartets and octets drawn from the members.  This strategy paid off for the most part, although being so exposed brought some nervousness in places!  The octet ‘Verbum Caro’ by Loyset Compere was truly lovely, with fine ensemble and a rich balanced sound.

Peter enlivened the proceedings with some fine solo drumming, firstly in an anonymous Spanish setting of the same ‘Verbum Caro’.  The choir didn’t quite respond with the same spiritedness, but when he whacked the drum again later in a Portuguese piece celebrating Christ’s birth there was much more life and verve in the singing.

Very cleverly, the entire Mass by Victoria based on the ‘O Magnum Mysterium’ was performed not as a single ‘lump’, but spread across the programme interspersed with the other items.  The Credo  and the Agnus Dei in particular showed the choir at its best, with fine interaction between the parts and a solid and rich texture to the sound.  The final piece was Victoria’s ‘Lucis Creator Optime’.  In the chants the closeness of the vocal blend was striking, but equally in the responses the clear separation and clarity of the harmonies was very fine.

This was an evening which required concentration by the audience, but judging by the applause, Peter and Collegium succeeded in their goal of revealing musical beauty which is not as widely known and appreciated as it might be.

 

Your privacy is important to us. Click here to read our Privacy Policy.

© Copyright Collegium Singers 2013. All rights reserved.  

                                                                   

​Collegium Singers is a Registered Charity 1116300

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by Collegium Singers and while we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this website.

Through this website you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of Collegium Singers. We have no control over the nature, content and availability of those sites. The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.

Every effort is made to keep the website up and running smoothly. However, Collegium Singers takes no responsibility for, and will not be liable for, the website being temporarily unavailable due to technical issues beyond our control.