The Apostle James brought Christianity to Spain (posthumously, as the legend goes--his remains were carried over from the Holy Land) and, from medieval times onward, he became a prominent subject in Spanish art and music.
"La Guerra" by Mateo Flecha tells how Santiago (Saint James) helped defeat the Moors in battle, and it was the opening work sung by the excellent Concord Ensemble at St. Columba's Episcopal Church near Tenley Circle.
The six-man ensemble, based in Bloomington, Ind., called this concert "The Victory of Santiago: Voices of Renaissance Spain," and for Saturday's performance it nearly duplicated the music heard on its first CD, which was produced as the group's reward for winning the Dorian Records/Early Music America competition two years ago.
The sense of balance and pitch among voices--after some initial adjustments during "La Guerra"--was impeccable throughout the evening. Their sound was bright, clean and airy, partly the result of three tenors outweighing a baritone and bass in the overall timbre. Paul Flight, a pure-voiced countertenor, added brilliance on top. In "Veni, Domine, et noli tardare" by Cristobal de Morales and "O sacrum convivium" by Tomas Luis de Victoria, Flight added a haunting, aching quality to the sound.
One drawback to this treble-rich approach came in the program's big closing work, Victoria's "Missa Dum Complerentur," where a thicker bass anchor might have created a more eternal-sounding and mystical ambiance.