Throughout the Creation season within the Church calendar, expectation for the long-awaited Messiah is available in texts and music typically quietly and intensely compelling; one expects hymns equivalent to “Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Gentle” and “Come Thou Lengthy-expected Jesus” in a traditional worship service. However when Scott Metcalfe, the Inventive Director of Blue Heron is concerned, the outcomes are something however standard.
“Christmas in Renaissance Spain & New Spain,” the ensemble’s vacation celebration, peered deeply into the bottomless effectively of the previous, delivering a semi-secular, colourful blended salad of 16th-century Creation hymns, plainchant, villancicos, and epiphanies to a grateful full home at First Church Cambridge on Saturday afternoon. (Additionally Friday evening and Saturday evening)
One among Blue Heron’s obvious fashions, the Tallis Students, additionally gratified a full home in Cambridge lately [HERE], and naturally one notes the similarities in sharply centered scholarly and performing precisionism of each small choirs. In a typical live performance each ensembles seamlessly morph their groupings amongst varied combos of voices. And each teams appear to toss in one thing sudden. The Tallis Students leapt from the Renaissance to the right here and now with a strikingly new-is-old-again motet by Arvo Pärt, and the sleek Herons interrupted our reveries with a creaky melodramatic quantity.
However maybe essentially the most the placing distinction between the 2 teams outcomes from the how Scott Metcalfe trusts his singers. Tallis’s Inventive Director and founder Peter Phillips conducts his forces whereas Metcalfe participates as a singer, and-or violinist when not basking avuncularly from the wings.
Thus, Megan Chartrand, Carley DeFranco (substituting for the indisposed Sophie Michaux), and Martin Close to, cantus; Michael Barrett, Jonas Budris, Corey Dalton Hart & Jason McStoots, tenor; Paul Guttry & David McFerrin, bassus; may work together with out top-down administration (no less than within the performances). And this additionally permitted the singers theatrical and gestural engagements that one would anticipate from particular person lieder singers, whereas on the similar time producing shapely collective phrases and accuracy of decoration.
Metcalfe notes of the primary half:
Come, Lord, and don’t delay,” implores the motet by Francisco Guerrero, its first phrases, “Veni domine et noli tardare,” intoned over and over by a single higher voice to a brief melody at two totally different pitch ranges; the opposite 4 sing the remainder of the textual content, quoting the identical melody once they sing these phrases.
Subsequent we hear the acquainted Creation hymn Conditor alme siderum, celebrating the arrival of Christ and the approaching return of sunshine to a world darkened by night, whereas waiting for his ardour and resurrection. Gabriel seems to the virgin, blessing her and the fruit of her womb, whereas in Ave Maria gratia plena his salutation to Mary is sung in alternation by two four-voice choirs…. Gaspar Fernandes’s rollicking villancico ¡A de abajo! publicizes the information to these “down there,” referring once more to the kid’s salvific mission to function “a ransom of incalculable value.” Cristóbal de Morales’s Missa Queramus cum pastoribus, a so-called parody mass whose musical supplies are derived from the motet of the identical title (“Allow us to search with the shepherds the Phrase incarnate”) by Jean Mouton. To the 4 voices of Mouton’s motet Morales provides a fifth, a second bass; the wealthy low texture could also be meant to emphasise the standard humanity of the Savior’s beginning, or that of his pastoral worshippers. The Osannas dance forth in triple time.
The country villancico “ensalada” that dominated the second half, La Bomba by Mateo Flecha the Elder, blended up languages, genres, meters, and messages most memorably. We embed Blue Heron’s efficiency from December 2019.
Pump! pump and bail water!
Heave the cargo into the ocean
or we’re going to sink
with no hope of salvation.
Can’t you see we’re doomed?
However woe is me, what is going to I do?
I can’t swim, I’m going to die!
Virgin Mom, I promise
to recite your hours with out fail.
Allow us to give due to the Lord our God:
it’s meet and proper
to present thanks for the good bounty
we’ve obtained today.
Allow us to all sing joyfully
in his service right now.|
Come, come, let’s start!
You begin, Gil Pizarra,
play your guitar
and the remainder of us will enable you to.
– Simply wait till it’s tuned.
Tune it effectively, you whoreson!
– Oh, how out of tune it’s!
Get on with it, rattling you!
We promised quite a bit
in the course of the fierce storm,
and later we’ll burn
an infinite variety of candles,
de la china gala,
la gala chinela.
God be with you, good sirs! To sail!
For whereas there are perils at sea,
there are perils additionally on land
and perils amongst false brethren.
To this salad Metcalfe added a candy and bitter dressing in a prancing flip as narrator, hysterically hectoring and gesturing within the method of a 19th-century melodrama sufferer. He raised his palms in prayer and choreographed some comparable handwringing from the refrain, additionally to bathetic impact. We may have merely learn our packages and listened to the singers and gamers with out this dubiously judged and seemingly anachronistic intrusion. Camerata’s Joel Cohen might need pulled it off extra piratically. [If you want to see and hear a memorized and choreographed performance from what appears like double Kingston Trio (but is really the King’s Singers), click HERE.]
Then it started to really feel quite a bit like Christmas within the darkened, candlelit sanctuary. The singers adopted the Star because the Kings and Magi Blessed the Babe polyphonically with fantastic jingle-jangle from Ryaan Ahmed, guitar; Jonathan Hess, percussion; Bob Wiemken, dulcian & recorder. And we smiled once more remembering how Metcalfe and Ahmed had tuned detuned and retuned in La Bomba
Gaspar Fernandes’s Tañe Gil tu tamborino closed the present with festive pleasure. Proper… tune that fuming, tambourine you whoreson!
Play your drum, Gil,
and let the flute and tambourine sound,
let the bagpipe stutter
and the fiddle not lose its tune.
For the divine heavens
invite us to a feast …
In a state of nice satiety after 90+ minutes of musicmaking, the group demanded greater than the formally programmed 15 or so works in eight classes. The tutti and boffo encore, the early Castilian carol “Veinticinco de diciembre…” often known as “On December 5 and twenty fum, fum, fum,” implanted an irrepressible earworm.
Lee Eiseman is the writer of the Intelligencer
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