Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Conor O’REILLY (born 1967)

Pie Jesu (1998)
Colin MAWBY (born 1936)

Alleluia! Christus Resurrexit (1991)
When David Heard (1987)
Gerard VICTORY (1921 – 1995)

Songs from Lyonesse (1984)
David FENNESY (born 1976)

Aimhréidh (1997)
Kevin O’CONNELL (born 1958)

All the Live Long Way (1988)
National Chamber Choir of Ireland/Colin Mawby
Recorded: Temple Theatre, Dublin, October 1999
BLACK BOX BBM 1030 [62:34]


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The late Gerard Victory’s large-scale choral cycle Songs from Lyonesse has, quite deservedly so, pride of place in this selection of recent Irish choral music. The music is superbly sung by the National Chamber Choir of Ireland, a virtuoso ensemble that has by now made quite a reputation based on their versatility, superb singing and wholehearted commitment to Irish music. Victory describes his cycle, a selection of verse drawn from different periods of Hardy’s literary career, as following "his journey from romance to disillusion, and finally to hope". This journey is reflected in the varied settings: simple, almost folk-like in the opening song When I set out for Lyonesse (also set by Finzi and Boughton), getting more complex (harmonically and emotionally) as the poet’s inner journey proceeds towards bitter-sweet and pessimistic feelings, eventually achieving some sort of fateful acceptance in the final song Afterwards. Victory’s setting for chorus and piano includes several solos. A minor masterpiece, and most welcome, the more so given Victory’s present shamefully slack discography.

The other pieces in this beautifully sung selection are all rather shorter and worth more than the occasional hearing. This is particularly the case for the two pieces by Colin Mawby, a prolific composer with many choral works, small and large, to his credit. Too little of his work is available in commercial recordings. His short Alleluia! Christus Resurrexit is a brilliant, joyful Easter anthem whereas his somewhat more substantial When David Heard, apparently inspired by some personal experience, is a moving setting of some Biblical texts.

Three younger Irish composers are also represented: Conor O’Reilly with his beautifully simple Pie Jesu (a short movement from his Requiem dedicated to the memory of his father and is brother), David Fennesy with his Aimhréidh ("Entanglement") setting a poem by Caitlin Maud and Kevin O’Connell with his Beckett setting All the Live Long Way, a fairly substantial piece of music that definitely whets one’s appetite for more.

A showcase for the chorus’s multifaceted versatility and excellence, this selection also makes a good cause for present-day Irish music. This release, I am afraid, passed somewhat unnoticed at the time of its release, but it is well worth looking for. I for one hope to hear more Irish choral music from these forces soon. A pity, though, that no words are printed in the insert notes; but this should not deter anyone from investigating this attractive release.

Hubert Culot

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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