The Gesualdo Six, St Mary’s, Warwick
LOUD uncontrolled blasts of moving air can be hugely destructive, as many have found out over the last week of storm upon storm. But such moving air can also produce, when controlled, the most beautiful harmony and sound in the classical canon.
And in the hands, and mouths, of The Gesualdo Six, that beauty and harmony was as soothing and uplifting as you could wish for. Thankfully the walls of the fabulous St Mary’s are sturdy enough to keep the lingering gusts of whatever storm has chosen to pass through firmly outside the building.
The programme took the form of a survey of English contributions to the development of Renaissance polyphonic choral music. The big names from quite a wide sweep of musical history were here – Byrd and Tallis principally – but there were lesser known figures too.
The Gesualdo Six themselves, under the inspirational direction of Owain Park, were clearly enjoying every note they sang, from the saddest lament to the most joyous affirmation. We were treated to the six in all its combinations – trios, quartets, solos and so on. And what a treat it was. Daft, perhaps, to pick out a moment from such fare but the cascading richness and beautifully solved cadences of Robert White’s Christe, Qui Lux Es Et Dies was sublime.
The fact that this ensemble can sing, and sing very well, is almost a given. They’ve been in this space a couple of times before and have garnered enough plaudits for their work both live and recorded to prove that. It’s also something of a given that this music will always capture the imagination and the heart.
But what made this concert rise above merely being excellent music expertly sung, was the thought that had gone into the presentation. Hardly a corner of this vast and varied space was left unused as the singers sought out the prime spots for pleasing acoustics. We had a single voice coming from a darkened side chapel, a verse from a soloist answered by a quartet somewhere behind us, and truly moving use of the chancel’s impressive depth to move the sound off into the distance as it faded away.
This constantly shifting presentation produced some marvellous effects, a triumphant advert too for enjoying music live.
This truly was shelter from the storm.