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Absolute partnership

Finding choral sensitivity,

Collegium    COLCD 127

blessed spirit - music of the soul's journey (c) 2000 Collegium Records


Following a particularly fine CD of the young mixed voice choir at Clare College Chapel, Cambridge in 1999 has appeared another of similar programming and comparable quality in all aspects. Clare's impeccable performances create a transparency of texture consistent with whatever they sing. In contrast to the famous neighbouring traditions at King's and St John's, this choir again validates use of a small mixed group, in some circumstances, capable of highly sensitive musicmaking. The programme has again been recorded in the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral, a mecca for those who seek a vibrant space for choral singing.

Programming has again introduced a balance between old and recent.

I must first speak in praise of an English composer rooted in the Anglican tradition -- by name, William Harris. He left numerous examples of stolid church music, yet when his chosen texts came from the great poets, his settings soar into glorious eight-part writing. A sample appeared on the earlier CD. Here a setting of Edmund Spenser's Faire is the Heaven brings a blissful close [listen -- track 18, 2:05-3:05].

Selection of the other tracks ranges far: Russian, Continental masters (Palestrina, Schütz), English masters (Tallis, Byrd, Wood, Holst, Stanford) and others of special note. Good and rare is the Finnish Rautavaara's Evening Hymn, and spirituals in elaborate array for this choir by their director, Timothy Brown.

I'm a musician with a special affection for choral music, especially when young, supple, and trained voices are in ensemble and unified in partnership with the other singers, giving of their very best in performance.

I find the sensitivity and artistry can equate with that of a lieder singer and pianist in absolute partnership. Admittedly it is rare, yet so welcome and so necessary.


Copyright © 7 March 2001 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK







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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Wednesday series of shorter CD reviews