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November 23, 2009

Review: The King's Singers

The Times (UK):

A delicate fragrance of rose petals seemed to be drifting around Sloane Square. This was The King’s Singers in their most aromatic mode: clad in midnight-blue velvet, with pink silk ties, they were hymning the Virgin Mary in Canti della rosa — a continuous and contemplative sequence of Marian settings from the Middle Ages to the present day. Continuous, that is, apart from the disruptive applause between every single item. Surely a plea could have been made for silence until the very end?

Threaded through the sequence were five movements from a piece newly commissioned by the Singers from Ivan Moody, a multisection work that could be sung either complete, or interspersed with other music. Canti della rosa, which gave the evening its name, worked well interwoven, not least because almost everything else that was sung sounded as though it was emanating from the chapel of King’s College, Cambridge.

Moody’s settings certainly did not. Here was a flinty, gently dissonant setting of Dante and a dark, droning arrangement of a Piedmontese Christmas carol; then a resinous devotional chant from Sardinia, led by the robustly raw tenor of Paul Phoenix, vowels pressed hard against the melodic line until they yielded their juice of tears. These settings were compellingly unified by the polarised nature of their part writing. David Hurley’s countertenor rang with the agony and the ecstasy of a peasant woman’s soprano while the basso profundo of Orthodoxy ballasted the bass. Read more.

Posted by acapnews at November 23, 2009 9:54 PM

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