The concert presented by The Song Company in the Art Gallery of Ballarat last week brought together superb singing and an exciting choice of program.
The Eton Choirbook, from about the 16th century, contains strikingly glorious vocal polyphony, with The Song Company, directed by Antony Pitts, making a serious attempt to recreate what may have occurred in performance during this period.
“Nesciens Mater” by Walter Lambe demonstrated immediately the precision and technical polish that was to be a feature of the entire concert.
The blending and balance of sound was exquisite. The alternate use of male and female choirs in William Startford’s “Magnificat” shone a light on the strength of each group.
The “St. Matthew Passion” of Richard Davey had the evangelist narrating the text in song, similar to later works of this genre. The choir convincingly added the emotion contained in the lines of direct speech.
The most complex and challenging work on the program, John Browne’s “Stabat Mater dolorosa”, featured not only intense polyphony exceptionally realized but exotic tonal colours created by the perfectly poised part singing.
The “Credo in Deum” of Robert Wylkynson, a perfect conclusion, showed again the wisdom behind the program.
The emotive and spiritual power of the earlier works was rounded off with a simple statement of faith.