Review: Fresh excitement rouses lively Christmas spirit

Stile Antico, St Mary’s Warwick, Dec 9

To keep their performances fresh and exciting, Stile Antico create two new programmes each season.

St Mary’s audience was lucky to hear only the second performance of the current offering ‘A Wondrous Mystery – Flemish and German Christmas Music’ after the début in Hanover.

Flemish representatives included the rich textures of Catholic composers, notably Clemens non Papa, with lines weaving in and out.

In contrast the German Lutheran folk tune in the hands of Hans Leo Hassler, create an intoxicating mix.

Hassler became one of those famous Kapellmeister of Nuremberg replaced on his death by Michael Praetorius, son of a Lutheran pastor who continued to include the Venetian innovations.

Amongst the stunning sopranos, Helen Ashby stood out, her gorgeous voice floating above those of her peers. From the basses Thomas Flint – a sometime contributor to Ex Cathedra – was in good voice.

Quite frankly, I could happily listen to those sopranos for hours and not get tired!

Stile Antico celebrate their tenth anniversary next year, they will be warmly welcomed back to Warwick during that anniversary year.

The pick of the works in the second half was Hassler’s Hodie Christus Natus est a 10 with clever changes of tempo; the evening coming to a close with Lassus’s Resonet inLaudibus – Gabriel’s announcement of the new King born to the Virgin Mary. We were left in no doubt Christmas is very close!

Rating 9/10

By Clive Peacock