London A Cappella Festival – Evening Standard
King’s Place, 12th January 2012
Take the instruments out of music and what’s left? The singing voice in all its glory. The London A Cappella Festival embraces as many instrument-less possibilities as three days of music-making allow, and began last night with a solo, half beat-box, half doo-wop, by Albert Hera.Then the Vasari Singers took the stage. After a slightly tentative opening in a Crucifixus setting by Antonio Lotti, the Vasaris’s precision-tooled harmonies and crisp enunciation took over. Pierre Villette’s Attende Domine proved an unsettling blend of ancient and modern, while the clipped phrases and rousing “Amen” of Francis Poulenc’s Gloria (from his Mass) suited the hall’s short echo. The most moving pieces were contemporary British. In Gabriel Jackson’s I Am The Voice of The Wind, the women’s wordless evocation of the wind was devastating while the consonant-free ululations of Will Todd’s Angel Song II were more sinister than angelic.
Musical director Jeremy Backhouse then lightened the mood, paying tribute to the Swingle Singers who, severally and together, joined the Vasaris onstage.
The clean-cut Swingle sound has remained constant for 50 years but a little goes a long way. Two Swingle women were characterful soloists in an Argentinian folk song but the Swinglification of Jerome Kern’s All the Things You Are preserved the tune but mislaid the song’s spirit.