The conductor of England’s greatest Baroque choir explains why they’d be lynched if they performed Allegri’s
Miserereas it was written.
Why have you decided to present an all-Handel program in Sydney?
The primary work is Dixit Dominus, which is a real rollercoaster of Baroque music, and when Sixteen go on tour it’s a real showpiece for the group.
You’re also singing Allegri’s Miserere in Melbourne. You have quite a different take on the work; could you explain?
On a new CD of ours Decca is calling it the greatest choral work ever composed. We don’t want to squash that myth, but it’s actually a very simple piece. When it comes down to it, the Miserereis a bit like a patchwork quilt that hasn’t been put together properly. The famous top C wasn’t actually notated. We filmed it without the high notes for a BBC television program, to show where it came from. But blimey, if we performed it like that in concert we’d be lynched!
But I do think it’s just fantastic when you place these things in their historical context. It’s like reading a historical novel and being taken back; we need to take the audience back to what...