Chords out of context and Renaissance polyphony

A busy choral week this week with both the Chamber and Cecilian Choir rehearsals.

As we get closer to the Crypt concert, the Chamber Choir rehearsals become progressively more involved, as we work to really make sure the intonation is good and that we can perform without the piano. There are moments when the choir really flies without the accompaniment – and then a few moments when we come to the ground with something of a bump… We’ve been taking particularly challenging progressions out of context, working to tune the motion between the chords effectively to ensure each voice-part knows the direction of the line. It’s especially challenging in the two Italian giants, the Lassus and the Monteverdi.

In contrast, Saint-SaĆ«ns’ Calme des Nuits is starting to develop a real sense of space, as we let particular chords build or dwell on the more static passages.

Renaissance master: de Victoria

In contrast, the Cecilian Choir rehearsal revelled in the glory of that masterpiece of the Renaissance period, two movements from Victoria’s Missa O Magnum Mysterium; we looked today at the ‘Sanctus’ for the first time, exploring sustaining the rich melismas right through until their very end. There’s a wonderful point where the sopranos are descending in stately fashion through the Aeolian mode whilst the other three voices are weaving their counterpoint underneath: a highly effective moment at the words ‘Dominus Deus.’ The ensuing ‘Hosanna’ moves to triple metre, and creates a positively dancing finish to the movement.

But no cake at the Chamber Choir rehearsal on Tuesday night: what’s happened to the Choir Cake Monitor’s due diligence ?!

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