Magnificat - The Tudors At Prayer - The Washington Post (Live Review)
25 June 2014The Washington Post
A cappella group Magnificat
breathes life into sacred music from 16th century Britain
Magnificat, a British a cappella vocal group founded in 1991,
gave a splendid noontime performance at the Church of the Epiphany downtown
Tuesday, the pews and rafters vibrating sympathetically to the quintet's
The repertoire was fairly narrow (all 16th-century British
sacred music on Latin texts), the group didn't put forth much effort as far as
diction, and everything was of a similar mellifluous texture - nothing with a
sharp rhythmic profile or extravagant word-painting. That said, the musical
artistry was more than enough to hold the audience enthralled.
A cappella groups almost always take great care that attacks are
blended and beginning consonants aligned. Magnificat, though, is still more
impressive in phrase endings, the voices perfectly balanced as they fade into
At full throttle, there could be imbalances; two members of the
group are significantly older than the other three, and the youthful voices
(including an effortless, crystalline soprano) occasionally predominated. But
otherwise, Magnificat's sound was pure, blended beauty - "O nata lux de lumine"
by Thomas Tallis and "Dum transisset Sabbatum" by John Taverner were almost
numinous. A setting of the "Book of Lamentations" by Robert White seemed
emotionally bland, given the grief-stricken text, but again the musicianship
and the quality of singing were all one could wish for.
Magnificat is undoubtedly magnificent.
Related LinksMagnificatThe Tudors At Prayer