The magnificent cathedral organ may well be on its way to England to ensure the continuation of beautiful music in this place, but seven magnificent young singers from England certainly filled it with beautiful music in this concert.
The Fieri Consort is a skilled ensemble of sensitive, well-matched singers who have been together for five years. Their remarkable sense of ensemble and studied sympatico musicality, with precise discipline and accuracy, produced some perfectly controlled and exquisite performances, wonderfully enhanced by the glorious cavernous acoustic of the cathedral, which is the prefect setting for such a performance.
They made the most of the accommodating acoustic by singing from different places within the building, such as the very effective opening item – Memento homo by William Byrd – sung to beautifully ethereal effect from the main door. From there the group let us wallow in more 16th century treasures by a range of renaissance composers, to which their style is particularly suited.
The well considered program and its title indicated a journey from the darkness of sin and ignorance into the light of redemption and forgiveness, which implied some significant changes to this style. However there is a certain sameness in the group’s pure and wholesome presentation which continued. Their attempts at demonstrating American shape note singing was far from the raw and rustic harsh primitiveness which characterises this style of music. The result was that the works by composers in this genre such as Ananias Davisson (Davidson), and A.M. Cagle, were endowed with much of the same oozy and reflective purity and refinement that pervaded the whole program.
Even in choral performance there are fashions which come and go, but when so many terminal (and other) consonants are understated to the point of being made almost inaudible (perhaps in antithesis to the crisp spitting of consonants that has been in vogue in earlier times), words tend to disappear in a sort of monosyllabic mush of tone, no matter how beautiful. But such a rendition does not do justice to either the composer or the lyricist.
Some appropriate diversity was injected with two works by the contemporary Scot, James Macmillan, in which the Consort showed both their ability for declamatory volume, as well as tender pianissimos. Their ensemble and control was immaculately demonstrated in the beautifully conceived and performed Amens in both pieces.
The concert concluded with a superb rendition of C. V. Stanford’s The Blue Bird – one of the highlights of a night filled with many. This is a group to keep an eye on.
St Peter’s Cathedral presents
Out of the Shadows
The Fieri Consort
Venue: St Peter’s Cathedral, Adelaide
Date: 19 August 2017
Tickets: $35 – $15