Perfect polyphony sees music season of to a joyous start - The Leamington Observer

Perfect polyphony sees music season of to a joyous start

Early music always seems to flourish in the surroundings of this beautiful church. Perhaps it is the presence so close at hand of so much history. Doubtless the acoustic which is crisp at the outset with a delightful reverb tailing off into the building’s far recesses, has a lot to do with it.

But it could just be that this style of music always succeeds because the players called upon to perform it by Leamington Music are so invariably first rate.

In a programme bearing the title ‘Why do I use my paper, in and pen?’ we are transported to the glories of the late sixteenth century in the company of the very reliable Thomas Tallis and William Byrd as well as a selection of composers whose names have not survived with such fame.

The Marian Consort, under the guidance of founder and director Rory McCleery, number just five for this programme, but the range and depth of sound is simply sublime.




Both Tallis and Byrd perfected the utterly beguiling illusion of overlapping and linking voices to establish a texture and a pulsing rhythm which somehow ends up producing a far greater, far fuller sound than one really ought to expect.

Their respective Salvator Mundi and Domino Praestolamur which open the second half as a pairing demonstrate just that. This is music of an architectural clarity, constructed of beautifully matched parts which build to bring us huge edifices of sound.


The forgotten gems in the evening sparkle just as brightly. Intricate offerings from the comparatively lesser-known Giles, Parsons and Clemens non Papa all make a case for heaping praise on those who laboured so hard to write them down and save them. But perhaps the highlight came in the immaculate miniature of Osbert Parsley’s setting of the Lamentations. Perfectly interlocking harmonies and supported melodies this time are joined by a breath-taking dynamic range moving from towering peaks to moments of brittle quiet.

The combination of historic, but at the same time timeless, music snd this fine venue is a real treat and, thanks to a generous and full season, it’s not a rare treat. Some of those ensembles behind recent concert highlights make their return to St Mary’s in the coming months with a fair smattering of festive joy included and an autumn evening listening to some first class music-making should be on anyone’s list.

In an age where everything from the most inconsequential of office memos to the appearance of the evening meal seems to be routinely shared and then saved for posterity, it is perhaps a miracle that we get to hear these pieces of music at all. To judge by the craftsmanship and beauty on offer here, it is heartbreaking to ponder how many such works are lost to us simply because they didn’t survive. This is what the paper, pen and ink were invented for and it is to be hoped that however copious the memory sticks of today may be, we remember to save the right things.

You can find full details of the early music offerings to come as well as full programme of chamber music concerts to be held at the Pump Rooms and elsewhere at leamingtonmusic.org along with ticket and booking details.

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