No audience could have expected more

Bury St Edmunds Festival, The Sixteen - St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Saturday May 9 At first glance the programme for this concert - sacred music by the 17th century English composer Henry Purcell and the contemporary Scottish composer James MacMillan (b.

Bury St Edmunds Festival, The Sixteen - St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Saturday May 9

At first glance the programme for this concert - sacred music by the 17th century English composer Henry Purcell and the contemporary Scottish composer James MacMillan (b. 1959) - might have appeared somewhat esoteric and specialist, but St Edmundsbury Cathedral was full for this outstanding musical event performed by a world-class ensemble.

The Sixteen is a renowned group of singers with a formidable pedigree and a level of sheer class which enables them to appeal to all sorts of music lovers. Even if composers like Purcell would not normally be your musical cup of tea this concert was instantly captivating, and there was no doubt here that we were in the presence of high art performed flawlessly.

In the opening group of Purcell works the choir demonstrated their exceptional balance, textural clarity and cohesion. 'O Bone Jesu' by Macmillan was a demanding piece, harmonically and texturally interesting whilst remaining accessible.


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The rich quality of the tenor voices came out in Purcell's 'Let Mine Eyes', accompanied with perfect subtlety by the instrumentalists.

After the interval three more pieces by Macmillan offered further opportunities for the choir to show its outstanding balance and richness, and 'O dive custos' by Purcell highlighted two sopranos of gorgeous purity in an ethereal duet. Ending with more Purcell this concert highlighted an ensemble perfectly at one with itself and its music. No audience could have expected more.

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Wynn Rees

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