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July 19, 2005

Ensemble Gombert

The Age (Australia):

At Xavier Chapel on Saturday, the latest program from the Ensemble Gombert rotated around a cappella choral music written for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. He was well treated by composers, both those in his employ and those commissioned from outside: conductor John O'Donnell led his excellent ensemble through motets by Crecquillon, Morales, Clemens non Papa, Lassus and the group's namesake. After the stringent harmonic clashes of the older masters, in particular Gombert, the concluding Heroum sobales by Lassus fell on the ear with unexpected sweetness.

For the evening's second part, the musicians sang a solid Mass by Gombert, Sur tous regretz, which was performed at the emperor's coronation. The work exemplifies the composer's individual combination of orthodox vocal movement with striking harmonic clashes at cadential points and an unexpected treatment of the text, in particular phrases that seem over-extended or end abruptly. The singers presented an illuminating and masterful account of this Mass, the altos and basses muted in volume, but giving the choral fabric a subtle yet formidable underpinning.

Posted by acapnews at July 19, 2005 9:23 PM