The highlights are many. I single out Gordon's Stars
with its delicious melisma and pristine quality. Gordon has quite
a facility with melody perhaps influenced by Sonheim. Then there is
Barber's lovely Sure on this Shining Night and the mood-related
Serenity by Ives. The Australians are good at Barber. I recall
a quite wonderful Knoxville by Molly McGurk on a Unicorn LP (long
disappeared - never to resurface?). Perhaps Schirmers will send Gormley
an appraisal copy of the Knoxville score. Another work in which
she would excel is Arthur Bliss's Seven American Poems.
Rorem's Alleluia has the roughened vitality
of William Mathias's choral writing even of Walton's Belshazzar.
Reflective songs are counter-balanced by the vigorous such as the Toccata
(around Ride on King Jesus) and the clipped and toe-tapping
Fix me Jesus and Hold on (the latter two being brilliant
Michael Ching arrangements). Failures are few - I didn't like the glutinous
pace at which At the River and Deep River is taken.
There is a real liveliness in this well recorded collection
and I am sure that this springs from Gormley's enthusiasm for the genre
and her sensitive partnership with Kevin Murphy. It is a credit to her
that she has sought out the less obvious as well as the more predictable.
How much better it would have been however if Gormley
could tone down the vibrato. She does this very well in the quieter
passages of the Carter cantata. Not that it is extreme but that stagey
quality in the voice can jar with the clean affecting simplicity of
Credit to the production team for having such good
judgement over the order of the songs. The disc works well at a single
Full notes and sung texts provided. English only. Well
presented. One of the best collections of its type.