Australia Tour, Sep 2010 - The Adelaide Advertiser> See concert details...
Flawless in every aspect of choral technique and interpretation, the 30 undergraduates of the college created by Henry VIII delighted and amazed the full to bursting Town Hall. Pitch perfect, seamless ensemble was delivered with the rhythmic precision of a well-oiled machine in finely judged tone covering an astonishing dynamic range – always beautiful, whether distilled to a whisper or fully, gloriously unleashed.
And all this maintained through repertoire that would set fully professional choirs on their vocal heels. Master and Commander conductor Stephen Layton clarified his England versus The Rest program. Partsongs and motets from old and new English composers sat alongside recent others, mainly of Baltic origin. He found common denominators in religious and political (often the same thing) conflicts.
The two sides and the two eras met in the “reinvention” by Sven-David Sandstrom (b 1942) of Hear My Prayer, O Lord (1682) by Henry Purcell. The result was genuinely respectful of the content and spirit of the source – the plea remained as potent as it was three centuries ago while the means of expressing it in music have escalated beyond measure.
Australian Paul Stanhope can feel gratified for his inclusion in this distinguished company, and to have his Deserts of Exile (2007) conducted and sung so expertly. The anguish of Palestinian poet Jabra Ibrahim over the division of her country, interspersed with excerpts from Lamentations of Jeremiah by Thomas Tallis, resonated as strongly today as in biblical times.