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This was a first for the consort in the venue, which proved acoustically ideal, although close proximity to the audience could expose the odd loose end or untidy onset. But these were rare in yesterday’s recital, and from my seat in the second back row I enjoyed a fine blend of unaccompanied vocal harmony.
Confident, well-paced harmony was maintained for the first half of the programme, featuring a selection of early English madrigals, which could be considered as top of the charts of the times. Popular numbers by Morley (c1557-1602) included Now is the Month of Maying and April is in My Mistress’ Face. Fair Phyllis I Saw by Farmer (1570-1601) unashamedly relayed its naughty textual innuendos, and Weep O Mine Eyes (Bennet c1570-1601) achieved tight harmonies and a very impressive final fade-out.
After a short break, the programme continued with non-secular motets O Beatum by Phillips, and O Nata Lux (Thomas Tallis), the latter being particularly well-balanced in blend, with subtle nuances and some exquisite mezzo voce sections.
My Love Dwelt in a Northern Land, by Elgar, featured soprano solo prominence (Anna Barham), Beati Quorum Via by Stanford (1852-1924) achieved compact kaleidoscopic harmony, stunningly blended throughout, and a John Tavener favourite, The Lamb, introduced more contemporary repertoire.
One can never overemphasise the need for clarity of diction with precision in consonant articulation in choral work, and like most choirs Southern Consort has room for improvement in this area, but their secure intonation, stylistic interpretation and enthusiastic delivery ensured an enjoyable afternoon recital.
- Elizabeth Bouman
Southern Consort of Voices
Hanover Hall, Dunedin, Sunday, April 8