As a group, Discantvs enjoys performing music which has a certain gravitas. That rather elusive factor is where the music seems to enable the singer and listener to hear something beyond the notes so that the beauty of the music acts as a sort of portal. If this depth is indeed there in the music, then the composer is the one who has in fact opened the door and so one of the endeavours of the choir is to allow the music to speak and not overlay it with “our” performance.
Who are these composers? We have found ourselves singing many pieces by two particular Englishmen. Peter Philips (1560 – 1628) and Richard Dering (c1580 – 1630) were both practising Catholics at a time when this was dangerous in England. They both show an awareness of the developing Italianate style of the early C16.
Alongside these, we place Robert Ramsey (fl. 1616 – 44), William Byrd (1543 -1623), Tallis (c1505 – 1585) and Robert Parsons (? – 1570). We also include two continental composers Hans Leo Hassler (1564 – 1612) and Thomás Luis de Victoria (1548 – 1611).
The selection is interspersed with vocal and instrumental interludes. The vocal ones are rounds or extracts from larger pieces which we have enjoyed singing in an odd moment such as at a mealtime, in a square in Madrid or on a coach journey. The two recorder pieces are in fact madrigals.
The final piece is a setting of a collect from Evensong by one of our singers, David Goymour. We have delighted in singing this in a number of English cathedrals.
(Bruce Ramell, 2010)