As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better way of seeing in the New Year than in the company of Stile Antico at the Wigmore Hall, the one venue which keeps going with all guns blazing while other venues close or succumb to seasonal pap.
But what this brilliant a cappella ensemble offered was seasonal too, the difference being that, with the exception of Praetorius’s lovely arrangement of the anonymous ‘Es ist ein Ros entsprungen’, everything they sang was bracingly new to most of the audience.
This concert of Flemish and German Christmas music – all composed in the sixteenth or early seventeenth century – was choral heaven from start to finish. Its connecting thread was the Mass ‘Pastores quidnam vidistis’ by Jacob Clemens non Papa, whose sound-world effortlessly touched the sublime.
The most musically exotic work was the motet ‘Mirabile mysterium’ by the Slovene composer Jacon Handl, whose sliding chromaticism was as daring as Gesualdo’s; Orlande de Lassus’s ‘Resonet in Laudibus’ rounded things off with an exuberantly Italianate richness.
The constantly shifting combinations of this conductor-less group were reflected in the fine calibrations of their sound; if they record this programme for their next CD, more prizes will doubtless lie in store.Reuse content