The Houston Chamber Choir



A Few More Cents and Smaller Buts?
September 16, 2014 — If I keep this short, maybe I won’t appear too terribly ignorant. The cathedral was big and boomy. Even in all that space, some of the beginning numbers of the Venice concert were muddy and constricted. The sackbuts may have been a bit too big and loud in the first couple of pieces in which they played. Maybe I just wasn’t used to their timbre. When there is so much reverberation in a cathedral, sometimes the waves don’t bounce right. The voices were beautiful throughout, but it took a substantial part of the performance for my ear to unmuddle the reverberations or for the performers to adjust their volumes and throws to make the sound distinct. It’s hard for me to know if it’s my ear or the tempering, but it seemed that a few more cents might have been needed in the early parts of the performance when the viols played. The violins and other like instruments have no frets and aren’t constrained by a certain tuning, allowing them to sharpen or flatten notes, to temper at will. My ear said, in the beginning they were a few cents off. In the finale, the viol instrument on the side of the cathedral was played masterfully and blended beautifully with the all the sounds that filled the cathedral. This music is so layered and soothing, in spite of its complexity. With a few minor errors, the German part of the show started the build toward the sublime. By the end of the show, the climax was just that. When we got there, to that place where the sound was a prayer to the heavens and worthy of any small angel, I wanted those pieces to be the beginning so I could hear more. And more. The Houston Chamber Choir brought “The Splendor of Venice – Music for Antiphonal Chorus with guest instrumental ensemble Sacabuche to life. The playbill was a beautiful piece of work, exemplary, complete. The explanations of the music, the text of the songs, the pictures, ad placement, everything, but most especially the explanation of the music and its importance were really wonderful.