Singers: David Hurley (countertenor), Robin Tyson (countertenor), Paul Phoenix (tenor), Philip Lawson (baritone), Christopher Gabbitas (baritone), Stephen Connoly (bass)
For a group like ours the choice of repertoire for recording often seems bewilderingly large. So why did we choose Portugese, Spanish and Mexican music from the period known as the Siglo de Orothe -Golden Age?
The idea came from our church concert programmes, where acoustics, space and atmosphere allow great scope for drama. Beginning at the back of the church with Crux fidelis and slowly moving eastwards as the piece unfolds has proved to be a magical way to start. More than one audience member has told us that if the concert had ended after that one piece, they would have gone home happy. But that would have denied them the chance of hearing one of the most famous pieces from this era – Alonso Lobo’s incredible version of Versa est in luctum, which often closes the first half of the concerts.
With our appetites whetted we then drew on collective knowledge and experience. The King’s Singers album Fire Water (2000) had included a Benedictus by Morales and the Lamentations of Juan Gutierrez de Padilla, two composers we felt must be represented. Delving into the memory banks brought out a surprisingly large number of settings of the Versa est in luctum text. The musical references in it to harp, organ, and voices of weeping undoubtedly endeared it to composers, and we chose three more to accompany Lobo’s.
You will be able to hear a bajon – the precursor to the bassoon – playing in these settings and in other pieces besides. It provides an authentic sound, giving a special quality that immeasurably enhances the performances.