Three perspectives on the Easter story as told in glorious polyphony by Monteverdi, Gombert, Byrd, Mundy, and new works by Alice Chance, Elliott Gyger, and Antony Pitts, sung live by The Song Company in the Crypt of St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney.



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SYDNEY MORNING HERALD July 2018 ★★★★½
“A time. A place. Another world. The Song Company's latest album was recorded live in the Crypt of St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney. Standing in a circle, facing inwards, the group's six choristers explore Easter via Monteverdi's​ Missa​ In illo​ tempore, interlaced with other vocal meditations, old and new, on the liturgy. Thus the eerie directness of William Byrd (1540-1623) makes way for a rich tangle of notes, hanging on in the air like ghosts, from Elliott Gyger (1968-), and harmonious chords veer off into to chromaticism in Monteverdi​ and Pitts. It is intoxicating stuff: in the Cathedral's stone crypt voices ring on long after the singers have finished, lending layers of organic polyphony to the artifice of the composer. Music director Antony Pitts and his ensemble sculpt the moving air with superb finesse, and sound engineers Bob Scott and Ross A'hern​ shepherd it into an immersive​, uncannily clear surround sound. I challenge anyone to distinguish the intricacies of recording and to disentangle the divinely entwined polyphonics. But, honestly, that's not the point: just put on your headphones, close your eyes, and imagine yourself tumbling through time and space.” (Harriet Cunningham)  



A live programme in three uninterrupted sequences exploring the very different temporal perspectives of the Easter story in glorious polyphony by Monteverdi, based on his musical forebear Gombert, with new Australian motets by Alice Chance and Elliott Gyger, and by Antony Pitts, the new Artistic Director of The Song Company, Australia’s premier vocal ensemble. Recorded in the round in the cavernous acoustics of the Crypt of St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney.

TOMB
1. Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643): Missa In illo tempore / Kyrie
2. Antony Pitts (1969-): Thou wast present as on this day (“in the tomb”)
3. Nicolas Gombert (c.1495-c.1560): In illo tempore loquente Jesu
4. Monteverdi: Missa In illo tempore / Gloria
5. William Byrd (c.1540-1623): Christe, qui lux es

HADES
6. Elliott Gyger (1968-): Creator alme siderum
7. Monteverdi: Missa In illo tempore / Credo
8. Pitts: Thou wast present as on this day (“in Hades”)
9. Anonymous (Gent University MS14, after 1469): Credo
10. Alice Chance (1994-): And the Lord said, Fiat Lux

THRONE
11. Monteverdi: Missa In illo tempore / Sanctus
12. Byrd: O salutaris hostia
13. Monteverdi: Missa In illo tempore & Gombert: Missa Tempore Paschali / Agnus Dei
14. Pitts: Thou wast present as on this day (“on the throne”)
15. William Mundy (c.1529-1591): In aeternum

Susannah Lawergren
Anna Fraser
Hannah Fraser
Richard Black
Mark Donnelly
Andrew O’Connor
Antony Pitts Artistic Director



SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
“...Monteverdi’s Missa In illo tempore and Gombert’s motet... formed the central thread of the three parts of The Song Company’s radiant presentation in the acoustically miraculous crypt of St Mary’s Cathedral under their new artistic director, Antony Pitts. Standing in a circle on the terrazzo floor under the central vault, the building amplified and echoed the interweaving lines with iridescent resonance, building to a peak of intensity in the elaborate counterpoint that closes the Gloria and Credo of the mass that was quite magical... Pitts’ music expanded classic polyphonic vocal textures to incorporate modern harmonies within a broadly consonant framework and an original and sensitive understanding of the voice... This was a concert of rare and transcendent beauty.” (Peter McCallum)

LIMELIGHT
“A three-part polyphonic soothing of the soul... Given the holy location, the superb singing and the well-thought-out programme, it was quite a success. The concert was divided into three parts, representing three aspects of Easter: Tomb, Hades and Throne... Each section also worked in Thou wast present as on this day from Pitts’ Requiem for the Time of the End. The unifying element was the fluidity of time, the connection between past, present and future and, of course, the musical thread of polyphony that can arouse a sense of the eternal in the hands of a dexterous composer. The singing throughout was precise and unforced, the vocalists taking advantage of the Crypt’s natural amplification. Pitts’s direction from within a circular arrangement ensured a tight relationship between vocalists, as well a democracy of the six singers...” (Andrew Luboski)

CLASSIKON
“From the first intake of breath... I was yet again overawed by the exquisite vocal machine that is The Song Company... exploring the Easter story with music old and new, the audience were enchanted and seduced by the possibilities of the voice - at once reverent, distant, sombre, joyful and spiritual. The ‘filigree detail of each individual vocal part’ was brought alive by Susannah Lawergren, Anna Fraser, Hannah Fraser, Richard Black, Mark Donnelly, and Andrew O’Connor... Artistic Director Antony Pitts created a concert in three parts exploring the subjects of Tomb, Hades and Throne. Into this musical setting was interwoven some of the most beautiful, intricate and intimate hymns, psalms, a capella Mass parts, plainchants and motets. Clever artistic direction placed Australian composers in amongst the ancient greats... Extensive, educative and detailed program notes explained the historic musical journey we were on and the definition of polyphony – ‘the combination of apparently independent voice parts into a harmonious whole’, adding it was ‘one of the noblest inventions of the human mind’.” (Lliane Clarke)



DIGITAL STEREO DOWNLOADS / CDs: https://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_1EMIIT
CDs BY POST ($30 including shipping within Australia): buy now
DIGITAL SURROUND SOUND RELEASE: 31 July