Music and Vision homepage

CD Spotlight

Striking Individuality

Choral music by
Cecilia McDowall -
reviewed by

'... clarity and conviction.'

Cecilia McDowall: Choral works. © 2007 Dutton Labs

Lucky third in the Dutton series of Cecilia McDowall's work features music of surpassing calm and abiding integrity; these works are products of a new millennium that paradoxically bring to mind a world of contemplation, repose and common-sense; an inner panacea as the brutish realities of Iraq, Myanmar, North Korea, Dafur and Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe prevail.

The publicists observe: McDowall (57) is increasingly acknowledged for her 'pragmatism' in composing choral music tailored to the repertoire and abilities of local amateur choirs. Today she has a growing association with several such ensembles, notably Canterbury Chamber Choir and St Albans Choral Society.

The latter commissioned her new setting of Stabat Mater, premièred in St Albans (2004) and created for the Diamond Jubilee of St Albans Choral Society. This is a Sequence for the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for baritone soloist, children's choir, mixed chorus and large ensemble [listen -- track 7, 0:00-1:13].

On Angel's Wing, a fifteen-minute cantata for mixed and children's chorus, soprano, baritone, piano and percussion is a setting of words by John Clare (1793-1864) commonly known as 'the Northamptonshire Peasant Poet'. His poetry underwent a major re-evaluation in the late 20th century and he is often now considered to be one of the most important 19th-century poets. Clare grew up during a period of transforming upheavals in both town and countryside and the destruction of a centuries-old way of life distressed him deeply; at the same time his love-songs and ballads charm by their genuine feeling.

The five-verse text on a theme of love for nature is punctuated twice with the Latin supplication Osanna in excelsis. O deitas clemens servorum suscipe laudes ('Hosanna in the highest ! O merciful God, receive thy servants' praises').

Continue >>

Copyright © 9 March 2008 Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand


 << Music & Vision home      Recent CD reviews       Komei Abe >>

Download a free realplayer 

For help listening to the sound extracts here,
please refer to our questions & answers page.