City Recital Hall, Sydney
February 24, 2018

The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra has kicked off its 2018 with a neat program exploring Thomas Tallis and his influence on a handful of major English composers. Taking us from the 16th century through to the 20th, this smartly curated evening is a well-balanced mixture of favourites and lesser-played works that ultimately builds to a cohesive whole.

Thomas Tallis Max Riebl and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. Photo: supplied

Central to proceedings is the always reliable Brandenburg Choir, given every opportunity to show off its chops. Byrd’s Ave verum corpuswas performed with a touching simplicity, crisp diction and pianissimi to be commended. The choir’s phrasing possessed definite direction – crucial in works of this nature, but so often a secondary concern – while a slightly open-toned sound, deployed throughout the program, helped some of the more complex vocal writing come across effectively. Gibbons’ moving Drop, drop slow tears, sung with little vibrato and subtle textual emphases, was a highlight, as was the viola and cello-only introduction.

Something of an audience favourite, Australian countertenor Max Riebl is a Brandenburg regular, having first sung in the Choir and subsequently performed as...