Inspired by Tallis – First Generation
The Attenborough Centre for The Creative Arts 8pm 11th February 2018
The forty singers stood in a horseshoe and, like a fuse lit in November, the spark of song travelled round until the whole was lit in unison: the brilliantly staged spectacle of Spem in Alium. This was one highlight of the Inspired by Tallis performance, with the voices of The Lacock Scholars lead by Greg Skidmore and BREMF Consort of Voices directed by Deborah Roberts coming together for the 40-part motet with a staging emphasizing the spatiality of the music itself – not flat, but multidimensional.
Music of Tallis’s era can sound like muggy polyphonic spaghetti if the singers aren’t good enough to articulate each line clearly and maintain the right balance between parts. In the main the joint ensemble of BREMF and Lacock Scholars managed this, though it did veer towards homogeneity at times. Obviously it is easier for a smaller ensemble to maintain balance and the Lacock Scholars showed some brilliant work in Tallis’s Lamentations and Byrd’s Vigilate in particular. Even conductor Greg Skidmore’s shuffling feet on the stage couldn’t distract from the ethereal combination of counter-tenor and alto voices. All in all a splendid feast of early English music.