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March 19, 2009

The Sixteen at Queen Elizabeth Hall

The Times (UK):

The Sixteen are celebrating their 30th birthday year by setting out on their ninth Choral Pilgrimage to churches, cathedrals and festivals throughout the land. Two pilgrimages, to be exact: one in honour of Handel’s 250th anniversary and the other, which has just stopped off in London, to pay homage to Purcell’s 350th birthday and James MacMillan’s 50th.

Age doth not weary them: indeed, with all these multiple celebrations, the Sixteen and Harry Christophers are on buoyant form. Their Purcell and MacMillan programme, called Bright Orb of Harmony and already available on disc, is sombre Lenten entertainment, but it lifts the heart rather than oppressing the spirit. This is partly because Purcell’s music is so minutely — and still startlingly — attuned to the words of pain and penitence it expresses. And partly because Christophers has moulded the voices of his singers so sensitively to the innermost inflections of the language.

Nowhere does this hit harder than in the Engish settings. In Let mine eyes run down with tears from the Lamentations of Jeremiah, the ease and freedom with which soloists and choir shared their lines, within a chromatic complexity that touched every nerve, made for an intensity that was neither contrived nor driven. Read more.

Posted by acapnews at March 19, 2009 12:00 AM

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