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Douglas Young's Canticle is outstanding. Here is a composer who has a great feeling for choral writing and Auden's text has fired his imagination. Beautifully crafted, a simple soprano melody is the catalyst around which a delicate harmonisation weaves [listen -- track 9, 0:03-1:30]. Inspired writing occurs in every voice [listen -- track 9, 2:04-2:44]. The composer uses Auden's own words 'labyrinth of choice' to summarise his approach to this composition. The climax provides an excellent example of this ; the performance is also outstanding as is the soprano soloist [listen -- track 9, 3:41-4:35].

Chaucer's translation of a text by Boethius provides the words for Elisabeth Lutyens' The country of the stars. Written in 1963, this 9 minute 30 second work is as refreshing and fresh today as it was nearly 40 years ago. Lutyens' remote star world is lean and sparse and her music shows an innate feeling for the text. The mood is set right at the beginning [listen -- track 14, 0:01-0:52]. With an enviable conciseness she creates a breathtaking atmosphere, not one note too many, not one note out of place. The singers enter completely into the spirit of the piece and the soprano soloist is particularly fine [listen -- track 14, 6:00-7:19].

The disc shows that choral writing was alive and well in the latter part of the 20th century and illustrates what remarkable progress amateur singers have made during the same period.

Highly recommended.

Copyright © 1 September 2001 Shirley Ratcliffe, Norfolk, UK

 

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CD INFORMATION - USK 1224CD

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