Le grand inconnu with The Sixteen reviews - Britten Sinfonia

Le grand inconnu with The Sixteen reviews

Reviews from the UK premiere performance of Sir James MacMillan’s The Sun Danced, with soprano Mary Bevan, and the London premiere of MacMillan’s Fifth Symphony Le grand inconnu, performed by The Sixteen, Genesis Sixteen and Britten Sinfonia, conducted by Harry Christophers in October 2019. The concert also included performances of Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten and Britten’s Hymn to St Cecilia.

The Times

"Five stars, then, for a piece that I would like to hear again and again. I'm certain I would find new things in it each time. A round of applause, too, for Harry Christophers, the Sixteen and its younger sibling, Genesis Sixteen, joined here by Britten Sinfonia, for their poised and passionate performance at this London premiere."

The Arts Desk

"A much-augmented Britten Sinfonia packed all the punches necessary throughout the evening, while The Sixteen (actually 24, and later to be joined by their younger companions in the Genesis Sixteen) projected the meaning of Auden's wonderful homage to the Patron Saint of music, celebrated on Britten's birthday, with wonderful lightness of touch under Christophers."

The Guardian

"The performers - Britten Sinfonia and the extended choral forces of the Sixteen - were impeccable, in this and the two openers: Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten, played with throbbing intensity, and Britten’s own Hymn to St Cecilia, sung with pinpoint agility."

The Telegraph

"The singers of The Sixteen, the chamber orchestra Britten Sinfonia and conductor Harry Christophers certainly gave their all. And there were moments during this 50-minute, three-movement piece that were poetically suggestive. The very beginning, which evoked the breath of the spirit in subdued whisperings and fluty harmonics, was one such."

Catholic Herald

"It was a remarkable evening, at which Sir James confirmed again his standing as the leading lay Catholic voice in these isles, and his ability to hold an audience spellbound with music inspired by faith. It seems remarkable in these times that a packed London concert hall could receive the messages of Fatima and give a standing ovation to a symphony about the Holy Spirit, but that is what happened."

"[The Angel's prayer of reparation for offences to the precious Body and Blood of Our Lord, and Our Lady's repeated injunctions to 'pray the rosary every day'] were delivered by soprano Mary Bevan in an impassioned and poised performance, supported by a radiant Britten Sinfonia and the Sixteen and Genesis Sixteen fully committed to the music."