Music of the Virgin Mary
St Andrew's Church, Greystoke
24 September 2005
The Wordsworth Singers presented another of their fine concerts of a cappella singing at St Andrew's in Greystoke on September 24.
Starting with Palestrina’s beautiful motet Assumpta est Maria, they went on to sing the associated mass, followed by a similar pairing by Palestrina's much less-known contemporary, Luca Marenzio.
Palestrina's smooth texture and complex polyphony made a striking contrast with Marenzio's jaunty rhythms and sudden antiphonal effects.
The singers conveyed these to good effect, with some fine solo singing from members of the choir.
But probably the most notable part of the programme came at the end, with two pieces not heard in Britain before by the still-living former director of the Sistine Chapel Choir, Domenico Bartolucci.
Bartolucci combines the traditional idiom of papal music with later melody and harmony in a remarkable way.
The singers were very successful in conveying the urgency and intensity of his Stabat Mater and Pax in Coelo. This second piece is a sort of concerto for soprano and choir, with the solo part working sometimes independently, sometimes in contrast and sometimes in combination with the choir.
Fiona Weakley's lovely tone and controlled line made this a most moving experience. Director James Grossmith is clearly getting the best out of this talented choir.