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Critical Acclaim for New York Polyphony's German Tour

05.15.18
New York Polyphony

Translated from German

MAULBRONN

Vokalquartett New York Polyphony begeistert in der Maulbronner Klosterkirche

To close one's eyes and just listen is probably the best way to experience the flowing lines of this singing – at least if it is New York Polyphony doing Marian songs and composition of biblical texts from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It is like praying or meditating with music.

Das zweite Maulbronner Klosterkonzert in der Jubiläums-Saison präsentiert eine Vokal-Formation, die die Kunst des nach innen gerichteten à-capella-Gesangs in Vollendung beherrscht. Zudem agierten

Countertenor Geoffrey Williams, Tenor Steven Caldicott Wilson, Baritone Christopher Dylan Herbert and Bass-Baritone Craig Philipps have found a brilliant, ideal location for their monastic-liturgical.  Songs reminiscent of gregorianic, the acoustics and architecture of this Cistercian church could not have been matched better with this immaculately intoned meditation.

In wonderfully clear interpretation of various four-part pieces, based on familiarity with this very special genre, and also the kind of down to earth realism we heard.  “Audivi vocem de caelo” and “Sancte Deus” (both by Thomas Tallis, “Regina Caeli“ (by Francisco Guerrero) and beautifully drawn, wide song bows of the counter and the “Ave Maria” (by Adrian Willaert). It is remarkable that they opposed ancient litanies with very complex modern pieces like “O pia virgo“ by Michael McGlynn (born 1964), which does not fear tonal  dissonances and, when quoting “Splendida Stella” erupts in full-throated vociferous praise...

In "Canticum Canticorum” by Ivan Moody, born 1964, a delicately floating  song hovers above the ostinat bass. Depending on the content of the texts the interpretation is determined by dark melting voices or a light enthusiastic avowal of love. 

Anton Bruckner’s “Inveni David” contributed a powerful, often repeated “Alleluja”, and the effusively applauded concert, after an  American folksong, ended with a song from the early Gospel-Tradition “Sweet Hour of Prayer”.
Pforzheimer Zeitung May 15, 2018

LEIPZIG

New York Polyphony, the vocal quartet from New York, promises "early music, modern sensibility" for their debut concert at the Thomaskirche Leipzig for the 19th Leipzig A-cappella-Festival. This seems to be their motto and that defines their artistic profile. Their programme "Passion" is not a collection of hits and signature tunes easy to sing - as one is used to expect from stars of their standing -  but a meditation about the passion and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

As on other nights of the festival this is a courageous choice. Instead of doing it as an encore NYP puts "Crux triumphans" at the beginning of their concert. This piece was written in honour of the franco-flemish singer and cleric Loyset Compère who died 500 years ago. After the composition of the 55th psalm by Andrew Smith (born 1970), a "Lamentation of Jeremiah" by the Spanish composer Francisco die Penalosa (c 1470 -1528) and the 22nd psalm by the Estonian composer Cyrillus Kreek (1889-1962), Compère's "Officium de Cruce" is the culmination of the programme. It was a programme which was international and bore witness to a choice of different eras that took into consideration the aura of the church as well as their home town New York...

In the US they are the stars of contemporary sacred music and are responsible for quite a few world premieres like the "Missa Charles Darwin" based on words by the evolutionist...

Behind the warmhearted voices lies a sobriety quite calvinistic. ...both their diction and their sound are very well balanced and thus they can fuse away inharmoniousness of contemporary and medieval music . Balance and unity were captivating till the end, even though the admiration of their vocal spectrum clearly surmounts their power of emotional persuasion.

They did not show much emotion about singing in the Thomaskirche but rather took things professionally calm and this might be a wrong impression as they had chosen pieces in the middle section of the pitch. But one can see their skill for a perfect surface...Therefore this concert is a protruding demonstration of their admirable mastery, which we know from their recordings.
Leipziger Volkszeitung May 13, 2018