Auld Alliance

At the beginning of the The Consort of Voices, the Edinburgh-based choir providing the music for this concert, strode in dramatically from the back of the church led by their bashful conductor, who explained the provenance of each song before they began. Their set had a great deal of variation. The music was sometimes frantic and loud, with cries of “Hiver!” in Debussy’s Trois Chansons, while at others it became soft and haunting, exemplified by the strains of French lament Nymphes Des Bois, delivered atmospherically from the very back of the church. The sound rang around the church and washed over the charmed audience. A real highlight was a rendition of Loch Lomond set in a minor key, which was unsettling and beautiful in equal measure.

The gorgeous walls of harmonies in these anthemic songs were captivating. After every song there was a brief but delightful pause where the audience sat enraptured in silence, as if willing the singers to continue and refusing to break the spell with applause.

My only criticism would be that while the crescendos were stunning in the quieter parts, they struck slightly less powerfully when louder and this highlighted slight differences in volume of the singers.

Nonetheless such parts were still graceful: the company had simply set the bar so high for themselves with their stunning opening that deviations were marked. Finishing with a rousing Piper O’ Dundee, they left to thrilled applause and left me inclined to hold fire on channel-hopping away from choral music in the future.

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The Blurb

The Consort of Voices, one of Scotland's foremost vocal ensembles, directed by Stuart Hope, return to Canongate. With a programme of Scottish and French music across the centuries, they celebrate the Auld Alliance.

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