Reviews

The Kansas City Star, December 17, 1999

Lionheart fills cathedral with warmth of season

By MICKEY COALWELL

Special to The Star

The six-man a cappella group Lionheart presented the exquisitely beautiful holiday program �Tydings Trew:  Feasts of Christmas in Medieval England� in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Amid the imposing stonework of the cathedral, with the ethereal sounds of offstage chanting opening and closing the program, it was easy to follow the voices of Lionheart into the distant past.

And what heavenly alchemy these voices wrought.  The rapturous opening hymn �A solis ortus cardine� seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere as the singers� procession came into the sanctuary.  Drawing upon two centuries of English music, the program was structured around texts celebrating the Annunciation, the Nativity, the feast of St. Stephen and St. John, the Holy Innocents, St. Thomas of Canterbury and the Epiphany.

The program was varied but substantive enough to consistently interesting, occasionally surprising and deeply moving.

For anyone who has studied the art of singing, Lionheart�s accomplishments appear almost miraculous.  Perfect blend, diction, tone production, phrasing and a host of dynamic subtleties characterize their singing.  I was intrigued by their unusual pronunciation of both Latin and Middle English vowels, but trusted in the scholarship behind their choices.  The well-known �Coventry Carol� was given an artful reading by the group.  The motets also seemed to be relished by the singers, who broke up into different configurations, singing from the altar, transept and nave during the program.  The use of space to change the group�s sound brought a contemporary touch to the ancient music.

Like the Tallis Scholars and Anonymous 4, Lionheart embodies the best qualities of the early-music movement � they are consummate musicians who really love an audience.  They concluded with a lovely arrangement of �In the bleak midwinter� that left no doubt that they cared deeply about touching the hearts of everyone in the audience.

 


Lionheart is represented exclusively by Bernstein Artists and records for Koch International.

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