Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

REVIEW



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 

 

alternatively
CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Paul MEALOR (b. 1975)
A Tender Light
Ubi caritas [3:53]
Locus iste [6:32]
She walks in beauty [4:49]
Ave Maria [7:04]
Now sleeps the crimson petal (Four madrigals on Rose texts) [12:49]
Stabat Mater [23:26]
Salvator mundi: Greater Love [6:20]
O vos omnes [5:20]
Wherever You Are* [3:00]
Tenebrae; * Alexander Mason (organ)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Nigel Short
rec. 11-14 July 2011, St. Jude-on-the-Hill Church, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London; *12 December 2011, St Giles, Cripplegate, London
Original texts and English translations included. Notes in English and Welsh
DECCA 4764814 [73:54]

Experience Classicsonline



In terms of exposure for his music Paul Mealor enjoyed something of an annus mirabilis in 2011. In April, at the request of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, his Ubi caritas was sung at their wedding and was heard by a huge global audience. Towards the end of the year his song, Wherever You Are was featured in the BBC television series in which Gareth Malone formed the Military Wives Choir. Their recording of Mealor’s song, which sets words taken from some of the letters between the wives and their husbands on active service in the UK Armed Forces, caught the imagination of the British public and sold in such numbers that it topped the UK pop charts at Christmas. Both pieces are included here.
 
When I heard Ubi caritas during the royal wedding I thought it was a somewhat grey piece. I now think that was an unfair judgement or maybe it’s just that the performance by Tenebrae gives the music a stronger profile? It’s a re-working of the music for a Tennyson setting, Now sleeps the crimson petal, which we shall encounter later on in this programme in its original version as the first of four pieces in the eponymous cycle. It’s most interesting to compare the two pieces: essentially, what Mealor did was to put the music into a higher key for Ubi caritas and, at the very end, a treble soloist sings a fragment of the Ubi caritas plainchant. Here the same soloist as sang at the wedding is used. I think the music itself actually fits the liturgical words rather better than the Tennyson text for which it was originally written.
 
At this point I think I should put my cards on the table and say that I don’t think Paul Mealor has been well served by the ordering of the music on this disc. There are far too many pieces following each other that are of a very similar stamp, which is to say the music proceeds homophonically, very often in block chords, and at a slow pace. It’s sincere and sometimes, as in the case, of Ave Maria, rather beautiful but one can have too much of a good thing and eventually I found myself yearning for some counterpoint or for music in a swifter tempo and, frankly, for some relief from block chord a cappella choral music. Swifter music eventually arrives when we reach the third of the Now sleeps the crimson petal set, ‘Upon a bank with roses’. This is an attractive setting in which the singers’ music suggests the sounds made by a trickling brook. However, one has had to wait rather a long time for this element of variety.
 
To be fair, the preceding tracks contain some good music: the aforementioned Ave Maria, for example, strikes me as a sincere, prayerful setting and the performance by Tenebrae is as beautiful as the music itself. The last of the four Now sleeps the crimson petal songs, ‘A Spotless Rose’, is also a good setting; it is described by the composer as the emotional heart of the cycle. We are back to slow block harmonies once again at the start but eventually some independent melodic lines break free and to good effect.
 
The main work on the disc is Stabat Mater, which Mealor tells us was written at a difficult point in his life. Unsurprisingly, therefore, it’s an intense piece, as befits the text. It consists of four movements which are played without a break. In the first, yet again, slow block harmonies prevail. This is grave music, which the choir sings unaccompanied. Especially remarkable here is the depth of the bass part. After 4:15 Mealor has set all of the text assigned to this music but he then repeats most of what we’ve already heard, which strikes me as a bit superfluous. The orchestra, which I take to be fairly small, then joins the choir for the remaining three movements. The second movement features an important soprano solo. Grace Davidson sings with lovely tone but, even when listening through headphones, I found it very difficult to make out all the words she sings. The music of this movement – and the performance it receives – is obviously deeply felt but I had an uneasy feeling that the material was being stretched a little too far. The third movement takes the form of a passacaglia and the tempo is vigorous. There’s real fire in this music, which is enhanced by Tenebrae’s dynamic singing. The fourth movement revisits material from the preceding movements, chiefly the first. A big climax is attained at ‘Paradisi gloria’ before the quiet, harp-decorated close.
 
Salvator mundi: Greater Love is an interesting piece. Mealor deploys an SATB solo quartet which sings words in Latin while the choir sings a different text in English. To spice things up the quartet’s music is in G minor while the choir’s material is in G major. The contrast of texture between quartet and choir is good and is enhanced by the ardour of the quartet’s contribution.
 
At the very end of the disc comes a ‘bonus track’, namely Wherever You Are with Grace Davidson singing the solo. Mealor has written a nice tune for this piece but I don’t think that was the real reason it became a smash ‘hit’. Rather it was the context and the fact that the wives of serving servicemen were singing the piece to and for their loved ones that made it take off commercially. The performance on this disc is a more sophisticated one – not that Gareth Malone’s choir lacked polish – but somehow the very sophistication is a bit misplaced: it becomes an art song rather than a song from the heart. Give me the Military Wives Choir any day.
 
I’m sorry that I’ve not been able to respond with more enthusiasm to this disc. Perhaps the contents don’t represent the full spectrum of Paul Mealor’s compositional style. There is some very nice music here and there’s absolutely no doubt of the composer’s sincerity. This is probably a disc better dipped into rather than listened to all in one go, as the reviewer is almost bound to do. That said, I can only report my impressions and, after listening several times, I find a worrying similarity about much of the music. I’m sure this disc will be a great commercial success and I hope it is: it’s excellent that a living composer, who has something worthwhile to say in his music, is getting this exposure and it’s also important that people get to know him for more than just two short pieces. The performances by Tenebrae are excellent, as one would expect from this source.
 
John Quinn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

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

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      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

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

Nostalgia

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

Comment
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

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
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
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
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
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

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






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.