The Derwent Singers and Sinfonia Chorale,
appreciated by MIKE WHEELER
You have to hand it to the early 17th-century Venetians -- they knew a thing or two about filling a large space with exciting sounds.
Derby-based chamber choir The Derwent Singers and their Nottingham counterpart, Sinfonia Chorale, together with the English Pro Musica Brass Ensemble, took full advantage of Derby Cathedral's various performing spaces in a programme dominated by Monteverdi and Giovanni Gabrieli. OK, Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers weren't actually written for Venice, but it's a good place to begin, and the opening two numbers got the concert off to a splendidly sonorous start, with well-balanced textures and a keen sense of rhythmic vitality.
Sinfonia Chorale. Photo © Inspirations Photography
Two of Gabrieli's pieces for spatially separated choirs and instrumental groups made a particular impact, predictably, with the music passing smoothly from one group to another, but with some imprecision in the brass in Audite Principes.
For two contrasting settings of O Magnum Mysterium, by Gabrieli and the contemporary Swiss composer Carl Rütti, the choirs withdrew to the Cathedral's east end, the distance enhancing the contemplative atmosphere of both works.
The concert ended with To St Cecilia, by the American composer Norman Dello Joio. This attractive and effectively-written piece sets part of the ode by Dryden ('From harmony, from heav'nly harmony') which Handel also set to music. Conductor Richard Roddis steered his forces through its changing moods with a firm grasp of the overall structure.
A word of appreciation, too, for the bright and breezy Intrada for brass by one of English Pro Musica's horn players, David Curtiss.