Classical review: Tenebrae

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In the only offering of unaccompanied choral music in this year’s EIF, Tenebrae came across as an immensely likeable group yesterday, capable of a wide range of styles.

Star rating: ****

Venue: The Queen’s Hall

Starting with Renaissance polyphony and moving forward in time to motets by Brahms, Bruckner and, more unusually, Reger, they suit some composers better than others. The serenity and balance in Lobo’s Versa est in luctum were spot-on for a piece written for King Philip II of Spain’s death. Victoria’s achingly beautiful Tenebrae Responsories were delivered with more assertiveness, despite the exposed solo sections working less well in blending the voices.

Four singers broke off to form a huddle below the upper side gallery as second choir in Allegri’s Miserere. Hitting its repeated top Cs was an impressive achievement for the soprano who sung them, especially as the location hardly made for an ideal acoustic. Three motets by Bruckner gained from the clear tones of the higher voices, although they were less successful in Brahms.

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