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Colour, Energy and Warmth

MIKE WHEELER enjoys a performance
of Monteverdi's Vespers


Derby is one of the UK's smallest cathedrals but there's still scope for, as on this occasion, an imaginative use of space in a work like the Monteverdi Vespers (Derby Cathedral, Derby, UK, 17 November 2007). Derby Bach Choir and Musica Donum Dei Baroque Orchestra were joined by an outstanding team of soloists -- sopranos Natalie Clifton-Griffiths and Susannah Vargo, counter-tenor Matthew Venner, tenors Mark Wilde and Marc Finer, baritone Gregory Skidmore and bass Nicholas Perfect -- in a performance full of colour, energy and warmth.

The choir's robust sound made its impact straight away in the opening number, and their feel for the music's rhythmic vitality was heard at its incisive best in the last of the five psalms, 'Lauda Jerusalem'.

The instrumental contributions to both the choral and solo voice numbers were vivid and characterful, and the 'Sonata Sopra Sancta Maria' positively danced.

The east end of the Cathedral was the effective location not only for the echo voice in 'Audi Coelum' but also for a small male-voice group singing the plainsong antiphons that prefaced and followed each of the psalms, something which the programme, unfortunately, failed to mention.

The climax of the evening was, of course, the concluding seven-part Magnificat, with the two solo tenors placed at opposite ends of the building, to thrillingly dramatic effect.

Copyright © 20 November 2007 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK



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