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From the start, Hugill's is a very distinctive soundworld, closely connected with the anglo-catholic choral tradition (in which the composer also sings). The music sounds rich, sensual and strange, sometimes sweet and intertwined. Rupert Damerell's counter-tenor sound here is rich, pure and spookily unnatural, perhaps even supernatural. When combined [listen -- track 9, 1:16-2:55] with wordless singing from the other three singers as a kind of holy trinity in sound on which floats Damerell's voice of Jesus, the effect is especially startling.

The music moves forward quite quickly through the Gospel story, with much workmanlike recitative, to form a forty-minute whole, pausing for intervals of reflection [listen -- track 8, 0:33-1:21] with each of the six contemporary chorale-like settings of Carl Cook poems :

Since it is true that rain
falls on the just
and the unjust alike, I
have prepared for the
storm impending, the wind
without mercy, but this
you must know above all -- my
love will not cease.

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Copyright © 23 June 2004 Keith Bramich, Worcestershire UK


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