Edinburgh Festival 2007

Edinburgh Festival
Kenneth Walton,
Fredag, 24. august

John Taverner - not to be confused with his modern day near-namesake, John Tavener - holds a seminal position in musical history. Much of that is due to one work, his Western Wind Mass, which every student of music is directed to as a prime example of the 16th-century composer's art of wrapping a sacred polyphonic masterpiece around a popular secular tune.

In this performance by Paul Hillier's Danish-based vocal ensemble, Theatre of Voices, it sounded every bit the glowing masterpiece, due as much to the presentation as the magnificent refinement and ringing resonance of this performance. Rather than sing its various sections as a continuous sequence, Hillier inserted breaths of fresh air in the form of thinner-textured medieval songs (with appropriate sacred allusions) and motets by Taverner's younger contemporaries, Thomas Tallis and Christopher Tye.

The overall effect was rather like a Baroque ritornello, the interweaving mass movements providing a binding polarisation. Tye's In pace ended the entire sequence on a transcendent, mystical note. Hillier's impressive ensemble combined truly humanistic charisma with pure-toned precision and eloquence of phrasing. This series continues to be a glittering gem within the Festival music programme.