A very pleasant way to end a long weekend.
Daisy and I both like a bit of Spanish Renaissance music. We’re familiar with the music of Victoria, but Alonso Lobo and Alonso de Tejeda were new to us, so we thought we should give this a go.
Ensemble Plus Ultra were also new to us and indeed new to the Wigmore Hall. Sadly, they were only able to sell a couple of hundred seats on a Monday evening, which was a shame.
Very good singers, but perhaps lacking charisma as a troupe, it transpires that Ensemble Plus Ultra have been around for ages – click here. They know their Spanish Renaissance, though, especially Victoria. The spokesman explained stuff in the first half (Victoria), but left us entirely on our own in the second half.
The concert was mostly lamentable…sorry, I mean lamentations. Not cheerful words, no, no, no. But you don’t really need to follow along the words, you can just sit and listen to the sublime sound of the voices, which is mostly what we did.
Click here to see precisely what they did at the Wig that evening.
Daisy commented that the audience was a particularly Englishy-churchy looking bunch. What else she expected at a Spanish Renaissance sacred music concert on the Monday of holy week, I have really no idea.
Anyway, the gentle, beautiful music was just what the doctor had ordered for us that evening.
Just gorgeous, this concert was.
Here is a link to the helpful Wigmore Hall calendar note that tells you exactly what we saw.
This was Renaissance choral music at its best.
Barry Millington in the Evening Standard gave the gig this rave review – click here.
Below is a vid of Stile Antico, singing Ego flos campi by Jacobus Clemens non papa, which was the second piece they sang to us and which gives a very good sense of their glorious sound:
Coincidentally, the above recording was made at the Old Royal Naval College which I shall be visiting in a few day’s time (as I write in January 2018), although not for music purposes.
For those who are not blessed with Latin scholarship, “Ego flos campi” means, “I maintain my oral hygiene when I go camping”…
…although those words are occasionally mistranslated by so-called experts as, “I am the flower of the field”.
Anyway, enough of scholarship. Janie and I had enjoyed an early music oriented weekend from start (Joanna MacGregor tinkling the Goldberg on the Friday) to finish – we had no complaints about that.
Play that vid again, go on…gorgeous it is.
Janie is not quite as keen on St John’s Smith Square as she is on the Wigmore Hall. It’s not quite the same sort of warm, intimate space.
But whenever we go there she realises that she likes the bar in the crypt and that we often hear music that sounds great in a church, which is of course exactly what this venue used to be.
Easter weekend and some baroque music suited to that time of year:
Very high quality singing for a semi-professional choir.
It all sounded beautiful.
Wigmore Hall on-line rubric doesn’t go back quite this far, but I have lifted the following text, which is also in the programme, from www.concert-diary.com – click here:
Il siglo d’oro – the Golden Age – was the name that Spaniards gave to their great flowering of music in the 16th century. Spain brought forth some of the finest writers of the age and the Virgin Mary was a popular subject with all of them. Francisco Guerrero was known as el cantor de Maria. Much of his highly characterful music was dedicated to the Virgin, from well-crafted four-part pieces to the more splendid double-choir numbers.
This fascinating exploration of music from 16th-century Spain sets Guerrero alongside his contemporaries and colleagues Morales, Esquivel, Vivanco, Alonso Lobo and the brightest star of all, Tomas Luis da Victoria.
The idea of this concert sounded great to me but not so great to Janie (or at least not for a Monday night in those days), so I made a rare trip to the Wig on my own that Monday night.
I was glad I did. This was a lovely concert.
Here is the programme:
The Cardinall’s Musick have preserved a review of the concert – click here.