06 Nov Concert Review from AMUZ Festival Antwerp
“An exemplary performance”
Review by Andrew Benson-Wilson
Laus Polyphoniae 2018
1618 / BEFORE
Antwerp, Belgium. 16-20 August.
Maria, Stella Maris
The late-night concert was Maria, Stella Maris given by the four singers of Gothic Voices (Catherine King, mezzo, Steven Harrold, Julian Podger, and Stephen Charlesworth)in the Sint-Andrieskerk. Bearing in mind my previous comments, this was a much-needed demonstration of conductorless performance: an exemplary performance, and an object lesson for many of the groups I had experienced earlier in the festival. The two-part concert explored musical aspects of the Medieval devotion to the Virgin Mary, starting with the mythical and devotional aspects before looking at the more human side. The first part incorporated three extracts from Joanne Metcalf’s Il nome del bel fior, based on a fragment of Dante’s Divine Comedy. The first extract, a wide-ranging monody, was sung by Catherine King from the organ gallery above the other three singers. The second extract hovered around one note in close harmony, while the final extract was a more extended piece in mostly stepwise movement with a central section centred on a rocking two-note motif. The second part included Andrew Smith’s two-part Stond wel, moder, under rode, ending with a particularly dreamy Amen. Their well-controlled programme ultimately led to the joyous late 13th-century motet Alleluia psallat, the final verse sung, as at the start, from the organ gallery. As well an extremely professionally presented concert, this was an object lesson in consort singing, with each note arrived at perfectly. The Sunday late-night concert is always a bit of a graveyard slot, so it was a shame that more people didn’t experience this concert, particularly some of the earlier performers at the festival. .
Here is the full review of the whole festival: