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October 17, 2005

Review - The Sixteen

The Herald (UK):

The challenge of successfully reconciling the apparent anachronism of renaissance music and language with contemporary cultural values is no easy affair, but, as The Sixteen continue to prove, it is most definitely a task worth pursuing. To celebrate the end of the Paisley Choral Festival, Harry Christophers skilfully lead his singers through a programme chosen to mark both the 500th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Tallis (c1505-1585) and the centenary of the birth of Sir Michael Tippett (1905-1998).

The Sixteen breeze in and out of Paisley Abbey with the kind of slick professionalism that fixes them firmly in the 21st-century camp of commercialism, but only when they forget the relative arbitrariness of their own place in time can we drift ethereally into the poetic acoustics of the abbey.
The polyphony of Tallis and the oblique dissonances of Tippett and MacMillan are caressed into life by Christophers, who manages to construct an effective dualism of anticipation and resolution with each lingering phrase, but just occasionally the performance feels stifled, and perhaps doesn't deliver the overwhelming sense of exaltation so inspired by the music.

That said, the men provide the most convincing displays of sensitivity, particularly during Tallis's If Ye Love Me and MacMillan's Bone Jesu and we are confronted with the harrowing yet compelling beauty of the counter-tenor lines and the intriguing anomaly of 12 men resonating as a single voice. One only wishes there had been more of these instances. Certainly, The Sixteen know what works and as they pierced the echoes of the cloisters we knew only too well that the desired effect had been achieved.

Posted by acapnews at October 17, 2005 10:13 PM