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Germany Tour - July 2018

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Perfect Cathedral Music

The voices of Trinity College Choir enchant listeners in the Holy Cross Minster in Schwäbisch Gmünd

Applause that did not want to end rewarded the 30 singers of The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge. With English cathedral music from three centuries, they filled the Holy Cross Minster, delivering a perfect sound. Two organ scholars presented works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Jehan Alain, and Simon Preston.

The first part of the concert was dedicated to composers of the 16th century. Giovanni da Palestrina’s five-part “Exsultate Deo”  from Psalm 80 provided a wonderful introduction to ​​the concert. Although the text of Psalm 21 refers to King David, one of the great father figures of Tudor church music, William Byrd, named his six-part hymn of praise “O Lord, make thy servant Elizabeth”. Then in five parts the motet “Salvator mundi” by Thomas Tallis. The “Ave Maria” by Tomas Luis de Victoria was also a very great pleasure to listen to. It was followed by a further five-part choral work by Robert Parsons, full of artful polyphony and harmony.

Quite different in sound “Bogoroditse Djevo”, the “Ave Maria” by the contemporary composers Arvo Pärt and Viktor Kalinnikov. Pärt’s, who won the 2005 Prize for European Church Music, composed in his own style of music “Tintinnabuli”, little bells ringing, simple harmonies with overlapping tonal lines in a rhythmically simple style. Viktor Kalinnikov set his “Ave Maria” in the elaborate Russian Orthodox style.

“The Heavens’ Flock”, a poem by the American lyric poet Paulann Peterson, set as a motet by the Latvian Eriks Esenvalds, was a mellifluous choral work. For the 1972 Helsinki Festival Einojuhani Rautavaara created the “All-night Vigil”. The choir sang the Finnish text of the “Evening Hymn and Ekteniya of the Litany”, a Greek Orthodox evening hymn from the third century.

The singers possess brilliant clarity of sound, both high and low. Led by Stephen Layton, known worldwide for the outstanding vitality of his interpretations, the concert was a standout event. Pleasantly surprised by the lavish applause, the Choir and Stephen Layton bowed and showed their gratitude with two encores.