Friday, 3 December, 2021 at 7:30 pm
St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, United Kingdom
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Andrés Moreno Mengíbar, Diario de Sevilla (24 March, 2019)
In the seventies, English choirs revealed to us the limitless beauties of Renaissance polyphony, including Spanish polyphony which at that time was hardly ever performed by Spanish choirs. Thus they created an interpretative standard which was at that time considered the canonic style of performance for this repertoire, based above all on seeking overall beauty of sound, and emphasising the transcendent over the expressive.
Then came other ways of approaching this music which explored the interpretative practices of the sixteenth century, the types of voice for which these scores were created, and the rhetoric and expression of the affects.
Stile Antico maintains its British vocal DNA in the sense that the voices are classically produced, without any vibrato and with a perfect blend that balances timbres and colours. But, on the other hand, it understands the need to deepen the detailed relationship between word and music through a phrasing that takes care of accents and dynamic inflections and that goes beyond what is strictly indicated in the scores.
All this was evident in a splendid recital in which the group showed its versatility and flexibility to endow mysticism to the liturgical texts without renouncing the expressivity (as in the half-voice delicacy of the ‘Jerusalem’ in Byrd’s Ne irasciaris, or the diminuendo on ‘contritus’ in Exaudi Domine by Ferrabosco), whilst at the same time as understanding how to approach the rhythms and the rhetorical games in the madrigals, in which they knew how to vary colours through different groups of voices.