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The first half of this welcome CD is a recording of Crucifixion, a Passion devised by his friend the eminent poet and dramatist Anne Ridler who was, at the time of its composition in 1993, entering her eighties. Ridler's libretto reworks the biblical texts beautifully and incorporates verses by the 17th century religious poet George Herbert, W H Auden and her own Hope sang at your cradle, son [listen -- track 12, 1:47-2:44] in which the clear soprano soloist is Elin Manahan Thomas, and in keeping with a traditional approach, the Passion is interspersed with chorale verses [listen -- track 2, 0:00-0:31]. The Auden verses, taken from The Shield of Achilles are shared between soprano and tenor soloist Nicholas Mulroy and give a bitter touch to an atmosphere successfully created as much by the fine overall structure of the setting as by the superb texts. This is a seriously contemplative work that does not leave us without finding a dramatic place for Kelly's distinctive rhythmic vitality [listen -- track 16, 0:00-0:57].

The rest is a selection of recent Kelly choral pieces. A Missa Brevis of 1996 in English includes an endearing setting of the 'Sanctus' section [listen -- track 23, 0:00-0:47]. There is a reflective setting of the Magnificat from 1982, a setting of Psalm 47 O Clap your Hands of 1984, a powerfully moving memorial Like as the Hart of 1995 with words from Psalm 42, and the most recent piece, living up to its title, is Praise his Name in the Dance, written in 1999 and first heard in Ripon Cathedral.

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Copyright © 25 August 2002 Patric Standford, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, UK


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