Nederlands Kamerkoor at Cadogan Hall review *****

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Nederlands Kamerkoor: Sacred and Profane

Cadogan Hall, 8th March 2017

  • Britten – Hymn to St Cecilia
  • Gabriel Jackson – Ave Regina caelorum
  • Berio – Cries of London
  • Lars Johan Werle – Orpheus
  • Lars Johan Werle – Canzone 126 di Francesco Petrarca
  • Britten – Sacred and Profane

Another bit of a catch up here. This was so good though that I thought I better say something about it.

This was the latest in an ongoing stroll through the best choirs that pop up in London with BUD who knows where he is at with this sort of caper. Any sensible consumer of classical music will likely eventually conclude that the most versatile and approachable instrument of all is the human voice, with a smallish choir the optimal way to hear it. And the genius composers of the past for such limited, but pure, forces, the likes of Taverner, Tallis, Palestrina, Byrd, Gibbons, Monteverdi and Allegri, are now augmented by some greats from the mid C20 and from the ranks of contemporary composers.

Anyway this outfit, conducted by Peter Dijkstra, were outstanding. The likes of The Sixteen, The Tallis Scholars, The Cardinal’s Musick and so on are a delight to hear but somehow these guys seemed even better to my ear (Cadogan Hall, along with Wigmore Hall and Milton Court are perfect venues for choirs I think). They just had such extraordinary control both individually and collectively.

Now I know the Britten pieces pretty well but it was in the second of the Lars Johan Werle pieces, and especially Berio’s the Cries of London, that the dazzling virtuously of our Dutch friends really came to the fore. The Berio piece takes the sounds of a Medieval market and turns it into a quite extraordinary piece, challenging and beautiful. And the Lars Johan Werle Canzone somehow manages to sound both contemporary and an eerie take on Monteverdi at the same time. I was just blown completely away by this. The Gabriel Jackson piece was not quite of the same quality and had a bloke playing a few licks on an electric guitar harmonising with the choir which didn’t entirely work for me.

So I gather these guys are keen to expand the contemporary repertoire and are keen to commission new works. Sounds like the Dutch government rightly invests in them as well. For sure they now have a couple of 50+ blokes as groupies eagerly awaiting their return to London.

For those of you that are not familiar with contemporary or indeed Renaissance choral music I would strongly urge you to take the plunge. I guarantee that within a few seconds of one of these outfits opening their lungs all the s**t that swirls around your head thanks to modern life being rubbish will evaporate. You really don’t need to know anything about the music.

On my radar there are a few Monteverdi Vespers coming up (including 23rd June Barbican Academy of Ancient Music), The Tallis Scholars at St John’s Smith Square on 30th June, The Cardinal’s Musick 18th July Wigmore Hall and an Estonian Choir next January 30th at Milton Court with a bit of Arvo Part action. Go on treat yourself.

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