Old and new
The first public appearance of a new chamber choir,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER
This was a bold choice of programme for the first public appearance of this new chamber choir. A sequence of pieces, old and new, based on the 15th century hit song L'Homme Armé was a good idea, and it had obviously been thoroughly researched.
It turned out to be an over-ambitious choice. The Quiristers comprises twelve very individual voices, and the sound was not always well blended (admittedly the church's surprisingly dry acoustic didn't help). There were moments of insecurity in the Kyrie from Dufay's Mass, and the intricate polyphony of Robert Carver's Sanctus and Benedictus needed a firmer directorial hand. But the smoother sound at the start of a Kyrie by Ockeghem showed that the choir has potential.
Peter Maxwell Davies' Missa super l'Homme armé, was a natural choice to represent the 20th century, but the performance shot itself in the foot by completely misinterpreting Davies' intentions. There are humorous element in the score, but to play such a bitingly savage work purely for laughs was just plain wrong.
I suppose it was inevitable that the concert should have included a movement from Karl Jenkins's The armed man, but the music's insufferable banality had me at screaming point well before the end.
To conclude the concert Michael Haslam played his own Eclogues XLIV for organ, three finely-constructed movements which really needed a larger instrument to make their full effect.