Who: Ottawa Bach Choir, Lisette Canton, conductor
Where: Knox Presbyterian Church
Reviewed on: Saturday, March 8, 2014 – 8 PM

OTTAWA — The music of the cultural movement of the English Renaissance, more or less contemporary with the Tudor era, reached some of the greatest heights of its time. At its best, it bears comparison with the work of De Lassus, Victoria and the other major continental polyphonists. English music would not be so distinguished again until the 20th century.

The Ottawa Bach Choir offered a program of music from the 16th and early 17th centuries Saturday evening at Knox Presbyterian Church. There was considerable variety in it, consisting largely of sacred music of various stripes, but with a few secular works. The composers represented included familiar names like William Byrd, Thomas Tallis and Orlando Gibbons, along with lesser-known musicians.


The first offering was If You Love Me, an anthem by Thomas Tallis, who is probably the best-known of the lot. Conductor Lisette Canton led a reading typical of much of what was to follow; there were a few minor flaws of intonation in an otherwise impressive performance.


Robert Parsons’ Ave Maria was beautiful without qualification as were the subtly nuanced Laudibus in Sanctis by William Byrd and Orlando Gibbons’ Lullaby My Sweet Little Baby. The last of these had quite a sensuous feeling about it, a little curious perhaps but beautiful just the same.


There were three secular songs too, which provided a bit of contrast to the high seriousness of most of the repertoire. Gibbons’ The Silver Swan was perhaps the most satisfying of them.


The major work on the program was Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices, a masterwork of the first order. Not only was it the most substantial item on the program, it received the most accomplished and satisfying performance. It was solid throughout, but with no shortage of great moments, especially in the Credo. The Sanctus and Agnus Dei were uncommonly beautiful as well.


Altogether it was an entirely lovely evening of a cappella singing

Copyright © 2024 Ottawa Bach Choir. All Rights Reserved. Ottawa web design VanquishLA