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The setting of Ave maris stella, first performed by the choir of Portsmouth Grammar School and the London Mozart Players on Armistice Day 2001, draws two Psalms from the Vulgate into its texts to highlight its theme of peace, significantly remembering Portsmouth's naval history (Psalm 106 begins 'They that go down to the sea in ships'). The men sing of the gathering storm -- 'Dixit et surrexit ...' [listen -- track 1, 5.57-6.50].

The most substantial work on the CD is the setting of the Magnificat, a centenary commission last year from the Finchley Choral Society. After an instrumental introduction that rises from the dark [listen -- track 2, 0.01-0.55), the choir makes its bright entry in what seems (with this limited McDowall acquaintance) to be the composer's brightest fingerprint [listen -- track 2, 1:40-2:41].

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Copyright © 11 December 2004 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


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