The delicate appogiaturas played by organist Marvin Mills introduce a stately Festival Te Deum by Benjamin Britten. The imitative entrances build to a piu mosso ed energico, and the rhythms change wildly. Then a delicate soprano voice rises over a very light organ registration.
The Trois Chansons by Maurice Ravel introduce some jaunty wickedness – my favorite being the rondelay warning of the dangers of the Ormond Woods. The Mastersingers are able to communicate the ironies of Ravel’s lyrics with perfect understatement.
The Choral Hymns from the Rig-Veda by Gustav Holst are a rare treat. Holst wrote these between 1907 and 1918 – translating the Sanskrit himself. Anne Sullivan’s pristine harp playing is brilliantly matched to the vocal sound of this set for women’s voices.
Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Three Shakespeare Songs show off the fine bass voices and his harmonies are so complex – from the bells ringing in resonant chords with major and minor seconds to the harmonic progression sustaining the lyrics ‘sea change’, the Mastersingers prove their mettle.
O quam amabilis es by Pierre Villette begins with traditional polyphony then moves to jazz harmonies and ending on an unresolved major seventh. Two motets by Marcel Duruflé are more staid and contemplative, a quiet moment of delicate sound.
The concert ends with Benjamin Britten Rejoice in the Lamb, Opus 30. This piece reminds me so much of Britten’s Ceremony of Carols because of the nonsensical lyrics, wildly dancing rhythms and exciting accompaniment.
David Schelat has selected a wonderful program of pieces that are rarely heard. Don’t miss this concert.