I’VE been thinking about the modern phenomena of older musicians continuing to do what they do fantastically well; The Rolling Stones; Cuban bands such as Sierra Maestra and Buena Vista Social Club, and in the classical world, the Hilliard Ensemble.
This quartet of singers are testament to team work and from their opening 13th-century piece, we were all transfixed.
Such was the intensity of the singing that we didn’t applaud until the end of the third piece, their first in English, where the text was crystal-clear, and the voices were widely spaced to demonstrate the penitent’s dialogue with Christ.
They then moved to a contemporary piece setting German text (by Katia Tchemberdji), which was ear-catching in its use of harmonies. The first half closed with some Armenian sacred songs.
In the second half, the penultimate work by Vache Sharafyan had such an intensely spiritual quality, one could almost imagine the Hilliards wearing robes and living in a closed order while singing their sublime music. The evening was somagical, it felt as though applauding wasn’t quite enough.