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Gibbons' O clap your hands launched the recital with ebullience and finesse. From the start the group's precision of intonation, rhythmic clarity and subtle balance of voices highlighted imitative entries within a flowing sonority that was interrupted only at section breaks, allowing the suspension-filled cadences full weight. The final part 'O Praise' communicated its fresh zestful mood with simple sincerity.

Lotti's Crucifixus displayed Voces8's evocative word painting, the biting chromaticism giving way to a shadowy final vibrato-less 'et sepultus est', while the slower clash and resolution in Thomas Tallis's If Ye Love Me was highly expressive. In Weelkes's Hosanna to the Son of David the group retrieved its initial buoyancy enabling the ebb and flow to blossom in a florid final 'In Excelsis Deo'.

A leap forward of three hundred years found us in Britten soundscapes, in the intriguing blend of ancient and modern in Ode to an Old French Carol, with its hints of drones merging with shifting chromaticism leading to a tonal conclusion. The thicker harmonic splendour of Parry's My Soul There is a Country rounded off this concise yet intense vocal feast. Throughout the individual quality of each voice was audible yet at the same time enmeshed within a colourful canvas always alive and alert to switches of mood and expression.

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Copyright © 25 February 2006 Malcolm Miller, London UK


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