MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2023
Approaching 60,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Fire & Roses - Madrigali
Track-list at end of review
Con Anima Chamber Choir/Paul Mealor
rec. St Mary’s Church, Aberdeen, 12-14 November 2010
DIVINE ART DDA 25094 [74:04]

Experience Classicsonline

Recordings by choirs of mixed choral works by mixed composers can be something of a very mixed bag, the various styles and moods jostling each other without any sense of purpose and sometimes without any sense of propriety either. This disc presents a very imaginative approach to the problem. It centres around two substantial modern works by Morten Lauridsen and Paul Mealor (who also conducts the disc) which employ texts from the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries. These are then contrasted with settings of the same texts by composers who were working at the same time as the poets themselves. So for example we get to compare Mealor’s setting of Now sleeps the crimson petal with that by Holst, and Lauridsen’s setting of Se per havervi, ohimè with that by Monteverdi.
Lauridsen comes extremely well out of this competitive sort of environment. He takes the basic madrigal style and enhances it with a halo of choral sound which cluster around and reflect the melodic lines in an admirably close study of the madrigal texts themselves and their meanings. The translations in the booklet by Erica Muhl are excellent, precise and comprehensible without being over-flowery, rather like the original Italian texts themselves. Lauridsen’s often extremely beautiful music is well sung by the Con Anima Chamber Choir from Aberdeen in what sounds (and looks) like a particularly atmospheric local church, of which we are given lots of session photographs including some of the composer himself obviously enjoying the performances.
The original madrigals themselves, by Monteverdi, Gesualdo and others, are a mixed bunch and quite frankly that by Giralomo Scotto - setting a text by Machiavelli, of all people - is a laughably bad piece of composition. One reads in the booklet notes that he was a publisher, and if he had not been one doubts whether this madrigal would ever have found its way into print. The madrigals are all sung by soloists from the chamber choir, who do a fine job by them. Three of the same soloists also sing the mediaeval English There is no rose (as a near-equivalent of Mealor’s A spotless rose) and this performance is an absolute highlight of the disc.
Mealor’s cycle Now sleeps the crimson petal is surprisingly close in idiom to Harbison; maybe there is a greater degree of choral blurring in the sounds he achieves, nearly coming close to Ligeti at times. That said, there is always a strong sense of melodic line and the harmonies serve to enhance rather than obscure this. There is another recording of this cycle - as indeed there is of the Harbison - and both the alternatives are given with rather larger forces, which means that the intricate vocal lines are not – as they often appear to be here – reduced to one voice to a part. This is particularly noticeable in the setting of Lady, when I behold the roses where the solo soprano counterpoint, finely sung as it is, overwhelms the melodic line which it should be accompanying. The recording by Tenebrae (on Decca) uses more sopranos on the descant line, and thus integrates it more closely into the texture. In the end, this sort of approach does the music greater justice. In fact the Tenebrae recording is obviously the one to go for if you want an entire disc of Mealor’s often magically gleaming choral music including the Ubi caritas sung at the recent Royal Wedding.
The two madrigals by Ward and Wilbye are finely done, but the Holst setting of Now sleeps the crimson petal for female voices only really does need a larger body of singers than the ten we have here; the beautiful setting by Mealor is in any case much superior to that by the relatively young and inexperienced Holst. The final two items on the disc comprise another piece by Lauridsen, a nice book-end to the Madrigali which open the disc, and an absolutely heavenly setting of Burns’s My love is like a red red rose by James MacMillan, which again would benefit from a larger number of singers to make its full effect.
Obviously there is no competition in this sort of recital, and the singing by the choir is always perfectly tuned and beautifully recorded. Lucky Aberdeen to have such a body in their locality! Could choirs making miscellaneous disc let us have more of this sort of imaginative programming please?
Paul Corfield Godfrey

Track list

Morten LAURIDSEN (b. 1943)
Madrigali [18.27]
Chanson eloignée [5.25]
Paul MEALOR (b. 1975)
Now sleeps the crimson petal: Four madrigals on rose texts [11.30]
James MacMILLAN (b. 1959)
So deep [2.39]
Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567-1643)
Se per havervi, ohimè [2.08]
Carlo GESUALDO (1566-1613)
Luce serene e chiare [3.24]
Vincenzo RUFFO (c1508-1587)
Io piango [2.34]
Giralomo SCOTTO (c1505-c1572)
Amor, io sento l’alma [2.05]
Yvo BARRY (fl1525-1550)
Quando son piu lontan [1.29]
Henricus SCHAEFFEN (early 16th century)
Ov’è, lass’, il bel viso? [3.17]
Anon 15th century
There is no rose [4.16]
John WARD (1571-1638)
Upon a bank with roses set about [2.40]
John WILBYE (1574-1638)
Lady, when I behold the roses [2.31]
Gustav HOLST (1874-1934)
Now sleeps the crimson petal [1.39]




















Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Error processing SSI file