Jesu, meine Freude and Komm, Jesu, komm, with their instances of dramatic word-painting, in particular benefited from the expressive potential of Skidmore's chamber-music approach; and even the bouncy rhythms and heady melismata
of Lobet den Herrn and Singet dem Herrn had an intimacy that larger forces would have found difficult to achieve.
It was only in the Notre-Dame epoch (around the turn of the 12th/13th century) that a distinction began to made between the organum, involving melismata
above the longer notes of the plainchant melody, and discant, where the voices are rhythmatised according to certain rhythmic models.
Duos to sextets were challenged with tricky melismata
- groups of notes sung to a single syllable - featured throughout, clear and brilliantly verbalised.
This we can appreciate by perceiving their dirgelike tempo and melismata
resembling the subdued local production and slow, downward turning movements of someone in mourning.
The rapid melismata
of Sigismondo d'India offered a welcome dash of virtuosity (the sole Monteverdi offering was a miserable opener) and even Kirkby herself described Barbara Strozzi's wonderfully dramatic Udite amanti as 'another long moan.
We also had the meltingly poignant and beautifully drawn Ave verum of Lassus against Buxtehude's Magnificat, rhythmically fluid with a fine quintet of soloists who threw off the vocal melismata
with joyous alacrity.