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Music from a Dublin cathedral



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The unexpected interest in this programme is a generous proportion of works by Irish composers, of whom most will be new to most people. Charles Wood and H.K. Andrews were both Ulstermen and probably the only Irish composers known to most church musicians.

That is not to imply, either of the Ulstermen or their compatriots included here, an unusual share of the precious creativity that shines through the music of great composers. These church composers had technique and a sense of choral writing which is sometimes lifted by the words to an intensity that momentarily illumines, a brief shaft of light that stays in our mind.

Dodging Tallis's oft-heard setting of If ye love me, we hear Robert Stewart's equally simple and effective approach from a 19th century perspective [click to listen]. A curious decorative setting of Veni Creator Spiritus by the obviously gifted Richard Woodward, appointed organist of the cathedral in 1765, indicates talent that left a small but clear mark on the history of Irish church music.

Great Cathedral Anthems - X. Copyright (c) 1999 Priory RecordsTurning to the present day, the vivacity of Séamas de Barra's Tibi Laus, Tibi Gloria, which takes the choir on a hard race whilst the organist is preoccupied with a toccata-like accompaniment, has strong ideas that almost defeats its purpose. Nonetheless, the conception is arresting and the effect challenging. A piece of John Tavener's affecting minimalism - Eonia - then gently clears the air.

Two contrasted modern anthems add considerably to this record: Andrew Synnott's Surge Amica Mea, and A.J.Potter's double choir and organ setting of part of an Irish legend translated into Latin by the composer - Clamos Cervi. The one subtle with modern colours [click to listen] , and the other, which concludes the record, of a solemn grandeur befitting both the text and a pupil of Vaughan Williams [click to listen].

Copyright © Basil Ramsey, October 20th 1999 


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