Music: A Winter Chorale, Caird Hall, Dundee, Keith Bruce, four stars

VERY swiftly on the heels of its collaboration with Vanishing Point theatre on Arvo Part’s Tabula Rasa, the Scottish Ensemble is out on the road again, this time in partnership with counter-tenor and harpsichordist Robert Hollingworth’s chamber choir I Fagiolini.

This music for eighteen musicians – the eleven strings of the ensemble and seven voices – is labelled “Then” and “Now” with a renaissance and baroque first half, including Monteverdi, Bach and Byrd, and living composers, including Part and MacMillan, after the interval.

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As a musical sequence (not dissimilar to BBC Radio 3’s newish daily In Tune Mixtape feature) the second half is a triumph with MacMillan’s instrumental For Sonny beautifully dropped into the vocal devotional work of Part and Peteris Vasks, and culminating in pieces inspired by Monteverdi and Bach by John Woolrich and Adrian Williams, the latter a brand new commission that gives the whole concert its title.

The first half is designed, in part, to inform that, and is a little more disjointed, with familiar works like Monteverdi’s Beatus Vir and the best-known hymn from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio sitting alongside rare 16th century dance music for the strings and Cristoforo Caresana’s wacky nativity play La Tarantella. Hollingworth’s claim that it was the other effective premiere of the evening, having lain unperformed since it was seen in Naples over three hundred years ago, seems quite believable. There was some brilliant ensemble writing in it too, although it is hard to see its off-beat take on the angels bringing the good news to a bunch of dim shepherds becoming a staple of the season.

It was great fun though, and, performed with enthusiasm and a few props, it gave another dimension to a candle-lit evening that reinvents the concept of the Yuletide concert in a week-long tour across Scotland.