In the programme notes for their concert Sanctus, the Renaissance Choir describe themselves as ‘ambitious and friendly’. Both were very much in evidence as they delivered a monumentally challenging programme with great geniality.
In the sacred choral repertoire there are many versions of the Sanctus to choose from. For the first half, the choir gave us Byrd, Palestrina, Victoria, Lasso, Bach and Mozart.
What impresses about the Renaissance Choir is their dedication to authenticity. Thus the Sanctus from Byrd’s Mass for Five Voices was performed to evoke the intimacy of the ‘priesthole’. For the Palestrina, the choir were positioned so as to surround the audience with sound.
This is exacting music, sung unaccompanied with multiple, interweaving lines, and despite the occasional waver in pitch and tempo, the choir held their nerve and direction under the adept direction of Peter Gambie.
If their ambition took them a step too far, it was perhaps with the Mozart Requiem and Vierne Messe Solennelle, both of which benefit from a far bigger scale and acoustic.
The second half was dedicated to Mozart’s rarely performed Trinitatis Mass written when he was just 17, with the choir beautifully capturing the youthful playfulness of this piece.