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But an excellent reason now in early December to rush out and order this CD is the lovely Christmas Cantata, Christus natus est, for choir and children's choir, with soprano and a small orchestra [listen -- track 8, 0.01-0.58]. Its five short movements are extremely imaginative arrangements of two Latin carols from Piae Cantiones, the French carol Entre le bœuf, and a traditional Polish carol Infant holy [listen -- track 11, 0.42-1.30], all linked by a series of clever variants on one of McDowall's own carols, Of a rose. This is a piece which, if I were king, would be done in musical schools every year!

The Fancy of Folksongs, written for the Canterbury Chamber Choir last year, is diverting and proficient, but not quite as inspiring as the other works -- and is unfortunately recorded at a lower sound level. The performances, all with Orchestra Nova under George Vass, are very good, and the CD does enormous service for the music of a composer who deserves to be heard as widely as possible.

Copyright © 11 December 2004 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


Cecilia McDowall: Magnificat; Christus Natus Est

CDLX 7146 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 64'18" 2004 Dutton Laboratories

Rachel Nichols, soprano; Frances Bourne, mezzo-soprano; Sally Pryce, harp; Canterbury Chamber Choir; Parmiter's Senior Singers; Orchestra Nova; George Vass, conductor

Cecilia McDowall (born 1951): Ave maris stella for choir, soprano solo and string orchestra (2001); Magnificat for mixed voices, soprano, mezzo-soprano soloists and small orchestra (2003); Christus Natus Est - a cantata for Christmas for choir, soprano solo, children's choir and small orchestra (2002); A Fancy of Folksongs for mixed voices, soprano solo and harp (2003)


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