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February 3, 2016

New York Polyphony presents beautiful, authentic renditions from the Spanish Renaissance

Kansas City Star:

With clarity and immersive sonorities, New York Polyphony reminded the audience of music’s spiritual function in the 15th century, as well as its sublime beauty.

This male a cappella quartet (countertenor Geoffrey Williams, tenor Steven Caldicott Wilson, baritone Christopher Dylan Herbert and bass Craig Phillips) is nearing its 10th anniversary as an ensemble, 10 years of exploring and promoting the succinct authenticity and blend of pure voice in both ancient and contemporary settings as performers and scholars.

Opening with Francisco Guerrero’s “Regina caeli,” the four displayed their richly soaring, dedicated style, generating a startling push when the antiphonal writing resolved into unison “alleluia.”

The remainder of the concert’s first half was presented without pause, combining secular motets and Tomás Luis de Victoria’s “Missa ‘O quam gloriosum,’ ” a varied work with enticing moments: a staggered descending line topped with a gorgeous countertenor line in the Kyrie, a stentorian bass entrance on the Credo, the changing texture of the Sanctus and its sudden “Hosannas!”

These portions from the Ordinary of the Mass were divided by the secular love song “Quae est ista/Sugepropera” by Guerrero, its flowing melismas bursting with energy as the text requests, “rise up, my love.”

The first half concluded with Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina’s “Gaudent in caelis,” which joyfully followed the plaintive calm of the Mass’ Agnus Dei with its lively, expressive text painting.

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Posted by acapnews at February 3, 2016 12:00 AM


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