It was a large and enthusiastic audience who ventured out this freezing February evening to hear a choir singing mostly Lenten texts entirely in Latin.
The Renaissance Choir specialise in unaccompanied repertoire and there were many highlights here, not least their opening item sung from the rear of the church. The Choir then processed along the nave singing their conductor’s own lively arrangement of Congaudeant Catholici.
We heard a world premiere by young composer James Dunlop, which suited the choir perfectly, alongside polyphonic offerings from the more familiar names of Tallis and Lotti, which they also sang with some distinction. Pianist Karen Kingsley provided a change of emphasis between the choral music with well-chosen pieces, including Carl Vine’s haunting ‘Threnody.’
The choir did not have the vast echoing acoustic of Bruckner’s church at St Florian but they raised the roof in his Ave Maria and Os Justi. Caldara’s complex sixteen-part Crucifixus is, as conductor Peter Gambie told us, difficult, and it showed. But the concert ended with a fine and taut performance of Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, and the final, long-held ‘Amen’ was magical.