This year’s Spitalfields Music Summer Festival (“Ever a bastion of the inventive and unexpected”: The Times) presented a fine Berkeley event at Shoreditch St Leonard’s Church on Tuesday 7th, with Rory McCleery’s Marian Consort and the Berkeley Ensemble coming together to perform modern and very modern, but always mellifluous, British Music.
As the main work, Lennox Berkeley’s Stabat Mater (1947) provided opportunities for individuals to excel in mastering exposed lines and original timbres, but the aural challenges for the receptive audience were cleverly prepared by the first half which interspersed Marian polyphony from Judith Weir, Matthew Martin and Hilary Campbell (the last two Consort commissions) with Michael Berkeley’s rather fun Catch Me If You Can.
The Marian Consort always present well and there is by now a well-founded expectation of clear lines, a great sense of pitch without harshness and an enjoyment in music making. If a fine distinction can be allowed, it has to be said that, at least on Tuesday, Emma Walshe and Gwendolyn Martin had just a touch more communication with their audience than the males.
Considerable thanks to the supporting patrons who made the evening possible. The CD is eagerly awaited.