THE unveiling of York Minster’s Great East Window was celebrated by the Chapter House Choir on Saturday, with a concert of 20th-century Eastern European choral music. From cacophonous expressions of praise to whispered invocations, this repertoire was clearly befitting both the choir and the setting.

The first half of the evening was bookended by Rachmaninov, whose Tebe poem and Bogoroditse Devo were sung with reverence and intensity. The choir did justice to the ‘holy minimalism’ of Pärt in their rendition of his Magnificat, affording the same sensitivity and control to the contrasting yet fittingly celebratory Bogoróditse Dévo, which elicited an appreciative murmur from the audience.

During their explosive rendition of Andrzej Panufnik’s Song To The Virgin Mary, the voices seemed to fill the Chapter House with the rapturous textures of the piece, which was the most technically challenging of the evening.

The choir emphasised the delicious melodic interplay of Vytautas Miškinis’ Angelis Suis Deus, and both the singers and the audience demonstrated visible enjoyment during Górecki’s Amen. Lydia Eyre’s solo in Ēriks Ešenvalds’ Only in Sleep was tantalising, although the piece provided an end to the evening that verged on sentimentality.

Under the assertive direction of Benjamin Morris, the repertoire was handled impressively by the Chapter House Choir, who maintained clarity and balance throughout the entirely a capella programme. With much also owed to the generous acoustics and arresting beauty of the location, this made for a memorable evening.

Review by Charlotte Armstrong