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Australia 2016

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The Age, Australia – “A glowing achievement”

As on their 2010 Musica Viva tour, this excellent choral body began with Arvo Pärt’s Bogoróditse Djévo​, the deft balance and shape of this atmospheric prayer showing evidence of director Stephen Layton’s painstaking preparation. Not that he appeared straight away: the Cambridge singers negotiated the Pärt, Byrd and Purcell anthems as well as the Salvator mundi motet by Tallis without a conductor, singing – as for the entire program – from memory, a remarkable feat of concentration.

Layton took the night’s focus firmly away from past English choral glories to highlight recently-written works, like Trinity favourite Pawel Lukaszewski​’s slow-burn Nunc dimittis​ setting and Joseph Twist’s Hymn of Ancient Lands, written for this tour and giving these singers a congenial, non-challenging vehicle.  

More impressive music-making came through Eric Whitacre’s setting of the E. E. Cummings prayer/canticle i thank you God for this amazing day: a gift for any choir but accomplished with splendid sympathy and commitment by these 35 choristers.

The main work, Frank Martin’s Mass for Unaccompanied Double Choir, proved a glowing achievement, each movement improving on its predecessor. In the Murdoch Hall’s revealing acoustic, this choir displayed faultless responsiveness and articulation, exposing clearly (for once) the striking interweaving textures of the two bodies involved while negotiating the work’s difficulties with unflappable assurance.

Layton is fortunate in controlling a sterling set of musicians who react to each line but do so with one mind. Hearing the Trinity Choir rather spoils you because they operate at such a high, sustained level of excellence.


Clive O'Connell