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June 15, 2009

Renaissance music with lasting joy

Boston Globe (MA):

Friday night the Boston Early Music Festival presented music from both ends of the vast terrain it covers. The evening began with a recital showcasing period approaches to Beethoven, only to be followed by two nicely contrasting programs in Emmanuel Church that plunged backward several centuries, focusing on both sacred and profane aspects of Renaissance music.

First up was Stile Antico, a British vocal ensemble making its keenly anticipated US debut with a program devoted to settings of the biblical Song of Songs. Historically the lovers' yearning in this highly sensual text was often seen as a metaphor for the relationship between God and his people, or between Christ and his church, and apparently the entire book was like catnip for the polyphonists of the 16th century. This program included settings or adaptations by Palestrina, Lassus, Gombert, and Victoria as well as selections by less familiar composers such as Sebastian de Vivanco and Jean Lheritier.
The group's impeccably blended sound, the lightness and transparency of its ensemble work, and its warmly expressive approach to this repertoire were all notable from the outset. The 13 singers perform without a conductor but nonetheless manage to shape their lines with exceeding suppleness and grace. Polychoral settings by Vivanco and Francisco Guerrero were a particular pleasure, as was Victoria's elaborate motet "Vadam, et circuibo."

Posted by acapnews at June 15, 2009 9:06 PM

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