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Magical and Sensitive

A recording by the
National Youth Choir
of Great Britain

Delphian    DCD34045

Sanctum est verum lumen - multi-part music for choir. National Youth Choir of Great Britain / Mike Brewer. © 2008 Delphian Records Ltd

The National Youth Choir has 140 voices and is the most senior of the six choirs that make up the huge group of National Youth Choirs of Great Britain. The choirs meet twice a year for intensive residential courses, and the senior choir tours regularly, having already found enthusiastic audiences in USA, Australia and New Zealand in addition to many European visits. It began life in 1983 and has grown in strength and reputation under the ceaseless energy of its director Mike Brewer who was awarded the OBE in 1995 for his massive contribution to choral music in this country.

Using the full forces of the choir, their performance on this CD of the great forty-part motet Spem in alium by Thomas Tallis is without doubt a glorious experience.

Listen -- Tallis: Spem in alium
(track 10, 8:31-9:50) © 2008 Delphian Records Ltd

The passion of composer Gabriel Jackson for this Tallis masterwork, and an opportunity to realise his ambition to compose a companion piece for the Tallis quincentenary in 2005, produced Sanctum est verum lumen ('Holy is the true light') -- an Antiphon for the Feast of All Saints which Mike Brewer eagerly adopted for the Youth Choir, fitting admirably his ambitious programme for a multi-part choral recording. Jackson's piece is a beautifully sympathetic choral work that makes a splendid showpiece for this magnificently well disciplined body of young singers. It is a work that matches Tallis with the same number of parts divided into five choirs and, by coincidence, the same number of four-beat bars.

Listen -- Gabriel Jackson: Sanctum est verum lumen
(track 1, 0:03-1:26) © 2008 Delphian Records Ltd

The other works in this recital include Anerio's Stabat Mater (once attributed to Palestrina), Victoria's Magnificat, and a setting of the words Deo Gratia attributed to Ockeghem. There are two other recent works: I sleep, but my heart waketh commissioned by the choir from Tarik O'Regan in 2006, an attractive pulsating repetitive setting of words from the Song of Songs,

Listen -- Tarik O'Regan: I sleep, but my heart waketh
(track 6, 6:15-7:51) © 2008 Delphian Records Ltd

and a piece written in 1999 by the Danish composer Bo Holten for the BBC Singers during the period when he was their Chief Guest Conductor. In nomine is a work that treats the big choir to an impressive series of magical and sensitive effects.

Listen -- Bo Holten: In nomine
(track 9, 4:18-5:19) © 2008 Delphian Records Ltd

This well balanced and inspiring recording bears witness to the maintained high standard of choral singing in Britain, the admirable enthusiasm of the young singers, and the remarkable commitment of Mike Brewer, one of the few great British choral animateurs.

Copyright © 4 January 2009 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK




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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular series of shorter CD reviews