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Andrea Gabrieli at St Augustine’s, Kilburn

June 2005

Twenty-six members gathered at St Augustine’s to sing the Mass Quando lieti sperai and the motets Laetare Hierusalem, Beatus vir qui suffert and Caro mea. The proceedings were directed by Michael Procter with his customary mixture of panache, erudition, and eccentric warm-ups. Our exploration of the programme began with the madrigal which gives its title to the mass. Michael’s edition attributes the madrigal to Rore (?) [or Cristobal de Morales ?], the latter possibility coming as something of a surprise to those of us who are unacquainted with Morales as a composer of secular music. Robert Stevenson, in the New Grove, admits only five works to the Morales secular canon but appends a list of 22 “doubtful and misattributed works” in which Quando lieti sperai is described as having been attributed to Morales in 1584, but as being actually by Rore. Alvin Johnson’s article on Rore in the same publication lists the madrigal among his works with the annotation (? by Morales). It took a while for us to settle down to some serious workbut, after a series of reshuffles which would not have been out of place in a Conservative shadow cabinet, we reached a stable formation only disturbed by Neil’s oscillations between the tenor and alto sections. In the course of the day we were introduced to a bewildering variety of concepts. Some, such as the structure of the Renaissance Kyrie, were not unfamiliar, but the more novel among them ranged from the purely musical (the infinitely extensible plagal cadence) through the musico- mystical (the relentless eternal pulse) to the aesthetico-musical (the way in which the setting physically mirrors the words, illustrated bythe shape of the music to which the word “uberibus” is set in Laetare) and, at the extreme edge, the contribution of singers of Renaissance music to global warming (or possibly the reduction in global warming). Apparently we all need more carbon dioxide and less oxygen. Michael steered us through the complexities of the music with exemplary patience and good humour, thereby coaxing a performance from us which, while not without its rough edges, was very creditable in (as we lawyers say) all the circumstances. The decision to sing Beatus vir and Caro mea, scrambled, from the chancel steps, turned out to be a particularly inspired one. Although it may not be usual to mention individuals, I very much enjoyed hearing Hazel in the role of cantor in the non-Gabrieli parts of the service. This note would be incomplete without an expression of our warmest thanks to Penny Vinson for all that she did to make our environment as congenial as possible, thus substantially enhancing the success of a most rewarding occasion.

Sidney Ross

© Sidney Ross 2017

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