March 10, 2016
Review by Brenda Harwood

The resonant acoustics and glowing stained glass of All Saints Church were the perfect setting, as Southern Consort of Voices transported listeners 400 years into the past in Sunday’s concert.

Focusing on the works of Spanish and Italian renaissance composers, the 24-strong choir, directed by Daniel Kelly, sang unaccompanied, presenting a series of beautiful contemplative and complex sacred works. It was a treat to hear the woven fugal passages and multiple-part harmonies created only with voices, allowing for extraordinary dynamic range.

The concert began and ended with fabulous works by celebrated renaissance composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c1525-94), with the exultant Exsultate Deo and Canite Tuba setting the scene. The densely fugal Surge Illuminare, with its soaring sopranos and avant garde (for its time) themes, was a fitting conclusion.

The centrepiece of the programme was the intensely emotive 1605 Requiem by Tomas Luis de Victoria (c1548-1611), with elements of the opening swelling to full fugal choral passages. The feeling of this lovely, beautifully executed piece was of a woven tapestry of voices, creating a melancholy contemplative feeling.

Deep emotion was also to the fore in Miserere Mei by Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa (1566-1613), with its pleading tone and complex harmonic shifts.

Dunedin organist Alan Edwards rounded out a deeply satisfying programme with a series of organ works by 16-century composers.