Scintillating Chanticleer in Dublin's National Concert Hall

02.11.14
Chanticleer
BachTrack

*****
By Andrew Larkin

Chanticleer’s stage presence was eye-catching in its precision and its elegance. The swift organisation into diverse positions after each piece and the bowing were visually arresting. However, it was the mellifluous singing with its seamless blending of voices and effortless polyphony in Palestrina’s Gaude gloriosa that was more astounding still. Standing in a circle, without a conductor, there was a deep communication between each singer, as if each knew the other’s score as well as his own and where his line fitted into the overall structure. In Victoria’s Regina caeli laetare the alleluias were bubbling over with joyful exuberance as the various strands of melodies intertwined and soared from one side to another. It was Bingen’s O Frondens virga which made the spine tingle as at first, the plaintive single melody started, coming, as it were, from another millennium. It was joined by a haunting pedal note in fifths and as a second, third and fourth voice crept in, the volume and intensity increased ever so gradually. The fugal echoing of “ad erigendum nos” at the end was simply fascinating. The last of the sacred motets was Guerrero’s Ave Virgo Sancissima, which had the same pellucid quality to its polyphony.

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