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The Road to Paradise - In Ora Mortis Nostrae
Thomas TALLIS (c.1505-85)
Miserere nostri [3:24]
The Pilgrim’s Journey
Jacet granum – Clanat pastor [5:37]
Robert PARSONS (c.1535-1571/ 2)
Ave maria [5:01]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976)
A Hymn to the Virgin [3:53]
Media Vita In Morte Sumus
William BYRD (c.1540-1623)
Christe qui lux es et dies [3:40]
John SHEPPARD (c.1515-1558)
Media vita in morte sumus [19:16]
Requiem Aeternam
Richard Rodney BENNETT (b. 1936)
A Good-Night (1998) [2:33]
John TAVENER (b. 1944)
Song for Athene (1993) [6:28]
In pace in idipsum [4:27]
A Vision Of Paradise
Gustav HOLST (1874-1934)
Nunc dimittis (1915) [3:12]
William H. HARRIS (1883-1973)
Bring us, O Lord God [4:15]
Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983)
Take him, Earth, for cherishing (1963) [9:37]
In paradisum
Gabrieli Consort/Paul McCreesh
rec. July 2006, The Parish Church of S. Alban the Martyr, Holborn, London.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 6605 [74:11]

Paul McCreesh is known for his “concept albums”, recordings that recreate centuries-old masses and liturgies, featuring works by famous composers interspersed with authentic chants and other sound elements. In this new disc, he takes a different tack: he leads the listener on a “medieval pilgrimage” to paradise through a selection of choral works dating from the 16th century to the present, together with some Gregorian chants. From Tallis, Byrd and Sheppard to contemporary composers, such as Tavener, Britten and Howells, this disc presents a journey to paradise through music.

The pieces on this recording are very personal choices, and the order in which they are performed is loosely organized in several sections: a journey, life and death, a requiem and “A Vision of Paradise”. The heart of the disc is the 19-minute Media Vita in Morte Sumus by John Sheppard, a slow work that develops in lush sounds and drama, one that rivals the finest masses of Byrd and Tallis. Other works include Britten’s brief Hymn to the Virgin, Taverner’s Song for Athene, written for the funeral of Princess Diana, and Holst’s Nunc dimittis. While the segues from one work to another do not always seem ideal, the juxtapositions are interesting, and the overall feeling when listening to this recording is one of peace and tranquillity. While it is being marketed as a disc of “commercial, lifestyle-oriented appeal”, those who are familiar with McCreesh, the punctiliousness of his musicology, and the qualities of his choir, will not be surprised that there are no rough edges in this recording. That makes this sound, at times, a bit too perfect, too “produced”, but there is no lack of quality, either in the singing or in the acoustics of the church where this music was recorded. This is a disc to listen to on headphones, to appreciate the excellent acoustics and recording, as well as the textures and balance of the Gabrieli Consort.

Note that I received a promotional copy of this recording which contains only cursory notes, and would have appreciated reading more about why McCreesh chose the specific tracks, whether it was for their sound, their words or both.

Kirk McElhearn

see also Review by Dominy Clements  RECORDING OF THE MONTH in July




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