The Choir of The Queen's Free Chapel of St George, Windsor Castle, was in sublime form for The Wedding. Below, listen to them sing If Ye Love Me by Tallis, and Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer with a stonking descant written by the Director of Music, James Vivian, and brilliant organ accompaniment. Thanks to Sky News for that bit of truly important information. I watched the BBC broadcast live and no mention there of the descant ... it really was a woeful performance by the BBC (granted, ITV were worse). Instead, the BBC gave us all sorts of other information: And that lady in green is HM The Queen (gosh, really?) And she was wearing stockings designed by X. I ask you, inanity taken to absurd levels.
The Bride impressed greatly with her respect for the choir - she took the time to look sideways at the choir when they were singing. What beautiful manners.
I was privileged to attend this broadcast ... opportunities to see Cleobury in action in such situations will diminish, as he has announced his retirement, to take effect next year.
At last week's evensong, we heard an extract from a setting of the Stabat Mater of Lassus, Palestrina's glorious setting of the same work, and settings of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis by T.L. de Victoria.
Allegri's Miserere (with trebles dynamically improvising in place of the usual static run of "high Cs" - though we do get some of these as well, even two at once) at the Ash Wednesday Evensong from New College, Oxford under Quinney. My word the men sing the chant parts superbly. And here is a clip of Palestrina's motet Peccantem me quotidie:
St John's College, Cambridge are not unique in making their sung services available as web-casts, but I have yet to find a college who makes it so easily accessible (and easy to skip to different parts of the service). Here the Gentlemen of the Choir beautifully sing the Byrd three part Mass, and Durufle's Ubi Caritas.
Of particular importance, we hear the polyphonic Credo and Sanctus - what a shame these are "forbidden" (or as good as) in the Roman Rite.
The Sistine Screamers, as this choir had in recent decades (and not unfairly) been nicknamed, has been completely re-built and scarcely resembles its (recent) former self. It has now made a handful of recordings with the august Deutsche Grammophon, each release providing further evidence of this choir's total transformation from cacophonous rabble to an elegant, refined and homogeneous chorus angelorum, and it is well on the way to becoming a truly top-shelf liturgical choir (again), as one would expect of the pope's own choir! DoM, Monsignor Palombella explains, in the videos below, a bit about the choir's present day incarnation (for instance, the choir now employs professional men from around the globe, and the boys' singing schedule seems to be rigorous indeed). Added to which, the DoM seems to be in the habit of exploring the Vatican's musical archives for long forgotten manuscripts. How nice to see, also, that composers other than Palestrina (and Perosi) are now again given prominence by this choir. Wonderful indeed to hear. I'll certainly be hoping for this latest CD in my stocking!
William Christie conducted a dazzling performance by the Choir and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (not his own Les Arts Florissants). Five starts without doubt.
I reviewed a performance by the Westminster Abbey Choir from last year. That was an underwhelming performance of this work if ever there was one. Christie, however, has the exact measure of this work, and what a delight it was to hear. You can do so yourself below.