Darlings of Classic FM, The Sixteen have made it part of their mission to perform and record the music of Palestrina, a composer whose perfectly honed counterpoint became the model for his contemporaries and successors (among whom was no less than JS Bach).
It is not surprising then that the programme for the group's current, extensive tour is positively awash with the Italian Renaissance master's works, including the Kyrie and Agnus Die from his Missa Regina caeli, motets from the Song Of Songs collection and the glorious Stabat Mater. All were given a gorgeously polished, authoritative performance by the choir in a venue that provided the ideal environment for Palestrina's pristine, glabrous polyphony. In addition, and from the same era, we were treated to a beautifully rendered new version of Allegri's famous Miserere, restored and embellished through careful scholarly analysis to something more akin to the original.
These flawlessly crafted offerings were interspersed with grittier, rangier fare via four works from one of the greats of contemporary devotional choral writing: James MacMillan. His music features a wonderful fusion of ancient and modern, marrying the smooth lines and open harmonies of the traditional approach with present-day cluster voicings and sudden, thrilling changes of texture and direction. The choir revelled in all this with a telling demonstration of its versatility and power, expertly negotiating every twist and turn of the music with inspiring confidence.
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At the helm, the ensemble's founder Harry Christophers was a constant, dynamic presence, whose obvious passion for the material galvanised the singers into producing a superb performance.
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