A joyous, splendid concert

La Nuova Musica, Aldeburgh Festival, Snape Maltings, June 19

Listening to the vocal and instrumental ensemble La Nuova Musica in a concert of Renaissance music at Aldeburgh last Easter was a revelation. It seemed scarcely possible that just eight voices, plus continuo, could produce such vivid and characterful performances.

For their Festival performance of Bach cantatas and motets on Sunday afternoon, the ensemble had been expanded somewhat with a fair size band of perod instruments, yet the number of singers remained constant at eight with its distinctive composition: two each of sopranos, male altos, tenors and basses.

The different scoring of these cantatas and motets meant that there was some re-grouping between works, but for much of the time the ensemble was split into two choirs singing antiphonally from either side of the platform. There were, of course,many solo arias as well .

The arias produced consistently polished and characterful performances: in the choruses. the ensemble was impeccable with a lustrous sound that never faltered and always captured perfectly the music’s mood, be it the sorrow of Komm Jesu, Komm, or the joyous opening of Der Geist hilft.

Immaculately directed by David Bates, who drew lively and musical playing from the excellent period band, notably from oboes and recorders, it was a joyous occasion and a splendid concert, of which there have been quite a few so far at this year’s Festival.

Frank Cliff

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