Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Will TODD (b.1970)
Christus Est Stella (2001) - Prayer of the Venerable Bede - SSAATTBB
Ave Verum Corpus (2001) - Hail true body born of Mary - SATB/piano
None Other Lamb (1998) - words by Christina Rossetti - SATBB
The Windhover (2001) - words by Gerard Manley Hopkins - SATB and organ
Lighting the Way (1999) words by composer - voices and piano
Song of Simeon (1999) - SSSAATTBB
Lead Me Lord (1997) - Psalm 5 - S - SATB, piano
Carol: Every Stone Shall Cry (2001) - words by Richard Wilbur - SATB/piano
Carol: The Christ-Child (1997) - words by G.K. Chesterton - SATB/piano
Carol: The Virgin's Song (1995) - anon - SATB
Carol: A Boy Was Born (1989) - 16th century German text - SATB
Communion Service in E minor (1993) - SSAATTB/organ
Full Score/Ralph Woodward
Christopher Glynn (organ/piano)
rec. 15 April 2002, All Saints' Church, Gospel Oak, London

Will Todd has an indefatigable gift of writing melodic music which speaks direct to today's audiences. At the same time he can trace a lineage back to Howells, Bax, Stanford and Byrd. Three years ago I reviewed a CD of his Saxophone Concerto and the suite from the opera Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Todd's music can be extremely impressive. I would place it in the UK scene in a strain similar to the music of Lionel Sainsbury, Ian Venables and the late Carey Blyton. In the case of the present CD he is found in the modest, yet highly active and exposed field of writing for choir.

Christus Estella melds reflection and passion in a model in which harmony and the ecstatic ‘alleluias’ of Bax's masterpiece Mater Ora Filium are superbly combined. Similar, richly endowed works in this anthology are None other lamb, A Boy was Born, Song of Simeon and, with its opulently swaying Carver-like harmony, The Virgin's Song. Christus natus est has a rugged choral blaze while The Windhover (also set by Tippett) has both a chirping organ part and the dense grandeur of Vaughan Williams' Bunyan motet Mr Valiant for Truth.

There are several tracks where Todd audaciously embraces simplicity - a parallel course to that of John Rutter though with personal results. Here there is no hiding place for workaday ideas; none of the camouflage of a complexity or expressive invention written for composers, critics and cliques. Ave Verum Corpus deploys a simple tune with piano; Lighting the way likewise. Every stone shall cry is also instantly appealing with its echoes of Horovitz's Noah and his floating Zoo and Malcolm Arnold's Song of Simeon. A touch of rumba rhythm will remind us of William Mathias's Dance Overture and the Malcolm Williamson opera Our Man In Havana as well as Alan Bush's grossly underrated The Sugar Reapers. Although Merryn Gamba's vibrato plays up throughout Lead me Lord this is another piece in which melodic invention rises triumphant. The Gloria too has a populist touch. In the sleepy Christ-child, the velvety piano strokes are a master-stroke (00.51); a little detail but one that really registers.

Full Score is a choir, here comprising four singers for each register (soprano, alto, tenor, bass). Interesting to see Merryn Gamba's name among the sopranos. She may be familiar to those who snapped up Chandos's CD of the complete film music for Scott of the Antarctic. Hers was the solo vocalise in the BBCPO recording of that eerily beautiful score.

Plenty of material here for choral conductors and listeners ready to be surprised by the seemingly endless resources of tonality and the human voice ... carpe diem.

Rob Barnett

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.