City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

EIF 2015: Le Concert Spirituel, Usher Hall, Review

By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 12 August 2015

Hervé Niquet.jpg
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The Usher Hall
Le Concert Spirituel
Running time: 
Mass for 40 voices - Alessandro Striggio, Francesco Corteccia, Claudio Monteverdi and Orazio Benevolo.
Hervé Niquet (conductor)

Hervé Niquet conducted his five choirs, forty voices in all, accompanied by cornett, dulcians, sackbutts, cello, double bass, regal, chamber orchestra and harpsichords in a parody mass setting. Le Concert Spiritual was founded by Hervé Niquet in 1987 to revive the French repertory played at the court of Versailles.

We heard a setting of the Mass that was largely the work of Alessandro Striggio (c1536-1596) which for centuries was lost, apparently filed under the wrong name, and resurrected as recently as 2007. It is thought that an earlier mass setting was his party piece as he travelled around Europe. When in London it is said that he was Thomas Tallis' inspiration.

Striggio's contribution was his Kyrie, Gloria, Creed, Agnes Dei and Ecce beat lucem. Le Concert Spirituel sung Benevolo's Psalm 122 and Magnificat whilst from Corteccia the shorter first verse of Psalm 91, Gloria patri, Alleluia and for the communion itself Tu puer propheta altissimi.

It was an extraordinarily impressive hour of renaissance church music so recently discovered - a real treat. The audience clearly loved it and particularly those sitting in the choir seats below the organ. Each time the performers took a bow Hervé Niquet ensured they then turned organwise - a bit of serious fun appreciated by all.

Event: 9pm on Tuesday 11h August 2015

Fancy finding you on here Barnaby (Guen from FAST)! I was one of the lucky ones in the Organ Gallery for this concert & it was amazing. We probably didn't experience quite the same balance of sound as those in the main auditorium, but being able to see the conductor and his interaction with the different choirs/players was just incredible. I do a lot of choral singing & have never seen such an impassive face in a conductor. Presumably the musicians know him well, but he appeared quite scary! However it was clear that every single movement he made carried meaning - and boy, did he make that meaning clear to every single one of them. It was completely mesmerising and yes, the bow to those of us at the back was enormously appreciated :)