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'The Ridout (Litany) is a gem. A lot of people will know the Tavener, they will know some of the Pärt, they may possibly know the Gorecki, but very few will know the Ridout. It was written for the choir of Canterbury Cathedral as they process around the cathedral. There's a big role for the Precentor or Cantor -- he has all the versicles and the choir gives the responses.

'Singing the work in concert does take away slightly from that idea of space and architecture, but when the Vasari Singers performed Litany at St John's several years ago, Ridout was delighted at how well it worked. Big, block chords and rich harmonies juxtaposed with sparse textures, marvellously held together in five sections, each building towards a massive climax.'

Perfect demonstration material for Sensaura Sound, created by Central Research Laboratories Limited (CRL) a private Research and Development Company which used to form part of Thorn EMI. The technique was first used in the Vasari's Howells / Martin coupling.

An artificial head 'like a mannequin's head with microphones in each ear' explains Jeremy, 'produces sound images that are not only more realistic than normal, but also 'extend height and depth beyond the speakers while remaining localised and transparent at the same time' (John Borwick, The Gramophone, January 1994).

Backhouse sums it up nicely: 'You not only have the focus on the performers, you also get all the reverberations bouncing off the walls of the church, just as you would if you were sitting there. As nearly as possible, it 'recreates the human ear'.

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Copyright © 15 November 2003 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK


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