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Septet's Engaging Program of Song Bridges the Centuries

March 13, 2001|DANIEL CARIAGA | TIMES MUSIC WRITER

Uplifting in every sense, the local debut of My Lord Chamberlain's Consort produced a delightful, provocative afternoon of 16th and 17th century British music Sunday in the handsome and elegant Church of Our Saviour in San Gabriel, on the Chamber Music in Historic Sites series presented by the Da Camera Society of Mount St. Mary's College.

This septet of musicians put together a tight, engrossing program and performed it compellingly.

Titled "Be Light and Glad: 'Divine and Moral' Songs From Elizabethan England," the agenda contained pieces both stern and lighthearted, inspiring and instructive. The texts, extolling stoicism, patience and forbearance, preached lessons appropriate in a hedonistic age. At the same time, the emotional flexibility of the poets gave the listener reason to come away touched and, in the deepest sense, encouraged.

The performers were uniformly expert, the four singers in particular delivering words and poetic lessons clearly. They were soprano Marcia Young, countertenor Drew Minter, tenor Philip Anderson and baritone Gregory Purnhagen; their solos engaged, their ensembles pleased. Young and Minter also played hand-held early harps; Pat O'Brien played lute, bandora and cittern; Andy Rutherford, lute; and Rosamund Morley, viol.

The intermissionless program flowed freely and with canny continuity. The songs in which all participated proved climactic and satisfying--John Wilson's dramatic dialogue "The Hour Is Come" touched a nerve or two--though the solo songs, by Campion and Danyel, among others, also caressed the senses. Morley's solo performance of "A Polish Ayre" and the two singers' duet for two early harps also held the listener deeply.

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