review of Ely Consort’s ‘400 Years of Choral Music’ in the Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral on Saturday 1st December 2012

The concert by Ely Consort, 400 Years of Choral Music’ in the Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral on Saturday 1st December 2012 was magnificent – a most fitting memorial to Giovanni Gabrieli who died some 400 years ago. The concert opened with his Jubilate Deo which echoed beautifully around the Lady Chapel in true Gabrieli style.

Under the directorship of Matthew Rudd this choir has developed into a phenomenal group. A full rich tone, carefully and expressively shaped phrases, precise entries and rhythmic cohesion mark their performance every time.

This concert was especially enjoyable because of the varied programme that included many ‘old favourites’ and a number of new pieces that, even on a first hearing, were fresh, vital and contained very attractive combinations of sound.

The internal passion and exciting climaxes of Bruckner’s Christus factus est and Locus Iste, the appealing harmonies and flowing movement in Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine, the stable serenity of Hassler’s Dixit Maria, the poignant discords in Mozart’s  lighter-styled Sancta Maria, mater Dei  and  more serious Ave Verum Corpus were all beautifully sung. An evening of such glorious music would have been sufficient, but this time these fine singers gave us more. The modern works by Dubra, Will Todd and Lauridsen were enthralling, using modern techniques that enhanced their musical appeal. Dubra’s Veni Sanctus Spiritus contained challenging moments for the singers that were well mastered. Will Todd’s The Call of Wisdom conveyed perfectly a sense of the serene calm of wisdom with its expansive uplifting and deeply spiritual dimensions. I can’t wait to hear the piece Will Todd is composing for Ely Consort next September 7th to celebrate Ely Consort’s 25th anniversary. The Lauridsen Nocturnes with their international appeal using different languages, captured exquisitely the special romantic potency of a warm summer’s evening.

Jonathan Lilley provided essential and empathetic accompaniment on chamber organ or piano as required. His phenomenal musicianship was very much in evidence in his solo performances of Mozart’s Fugue in Eb K.153,  A Little Gigue’ K.574 and Debussy’s Jardins sous la pluie. You could almost feel the rain on the gardens in the Debussy.

The concert ended magnificently with Poulenc’s  joyful, declarative Hodie Christus natus est.

Ely Consort’s concerts next year will be:

Saturday 9th March at St. Mary’s Church, Burwell

Saturday 22nd June at St. Andrew’s Church, Sutton and

Saturday 7th September Evensong in Ely Cathedral

Contact: http://www.elyconsort.org.uk

Rosemary Westwell

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One Response to “review of Ely Consort’s ‘400 Years of Choral Music’ in the Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral on Saturday 1st December 2012”

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