Concert Review

Posted: Monday 12th December 2011
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Bruckner’s E Minor Mass – MusicWeb International

St Martin’s in the Fields, 8th November 2011

Two great choral concerts on consecutive evenings!

Even more impressive and enjoyable than The Sixteen/Harry Christophers (Monteverdi’s Selva Morale e Spirituale at Temple Church) were the crack amateur Vasari Singers, Jeremy Backhouse’s 40 fully a match for Christophers’ augmented 16. The Vasais sounded magnificent at St Martin’s.

Backhouse’s perfectly devised programme was rewarded by a large audience responding enthusiastically to music they mostly didn’t know. Bookended by some Bruckner motets and his gorgeous Mass in E minor for choir and winds, Cornelius’ single movement Requiem, brief and intense, earned its revival, and was well placed before R Strauss’s wind serenade and one of his massive works for unaccompanied choir. His Das Abenddepicts sunset at sea and the choir maintained pitch and tone quality in its difficult sixteen-part setting.

To my ears, the most compact of Bruckner’s Masses is all the better for its relative concentration and for being without soloists to steal the limelight. A favourite of mine over long years, but rarely met with in concert, this was the finest account of it I can remember.

The Sixteen’s concert was broadcast by BBCR3; this one from the Vasaris, whom we have reviewed often, could make a fine CD (or DVD !) and should, at the very least, be repeated for radio?

Peter Grahame Woolf
MusicWeb International