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


Mahler symphony 6 Nott


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

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

The Spirit of Christmas Present
James WHITBOURN (b. 1963) Missa Carolae (2004) – Processional Introit and Kyrie [7:06]
James MacMILLAN (b. 1959) Dominus Dabit Benigniatem [4:42]
John McCABE (b. 1939) I Sing of a Maiden [3:21]
Francis POTT (b. 1957) A Hymn to the Virgin [4:28]
Bob CHILCOTT (b. 1955) Remember, O thou Man [3:21]
James WHITBOURN Missa Carolae – Gloria in Excelsis [4:08]
John WOOLRICH (b. 1954) Spring in Winter [2:27]
Stephen McNEFF (b. 1951) Carol of the Birds [2:50]
Trad. Basque arr. Howard GOODALL (b. 1958) The Angel Gabriel [3:46]
James WHITBOURN Missa Carolae – Sanctus and Benedictus [4:08]
James LAVINO (b. 1973) Before the Paling of the Stars [2:45]
Tarik O’REGAN (b. 1978) Bring Rest, Sweet Dreaming Child [4:39]
James MacMILLAN O Radiant Dawn [3:57]
James WHITBOURN Missa Carolae – Agnus Dei [4:18]
Franz GRUBER arr Jonathan RATHBONE (b. 1957) Silent Night [3:41]
The Elysian Singers of London/Sam Laughton
Mark Brafield (organ)
rec. Cranleigh School, Surrey, 8-9 January 2011. DDD
Original texts and English translations included
MERIDIAN CDE 84601 [59:35]

Experience Classicsonline

 
This disc contains a very enterprising selection of recent Christmas music. Though the music is unlikely to be widely performed outside the fairly narrow window of the run-up to Christmas and its immediate aftermath that’s no reason why it can’t be enjoyed on disc at other times.
 
I think it’s fairly unlikely that James Whitbourn’s Missa Carolae will be heard all that often outside the Christmas season since the composer has used a number of well-known carols as the thematic basis for the work. The Mass, which is sensibly dispersed among the other items on this CD – in a liturgical context one would not hear the movements in succession – was commissioned to mark the 1400th anniversary of the foundation of Rochester Cathedral and was first heard there at the Midnight Eucharist on 24/25 December 2004. The Mass is for choir with organ accompaniment and the musical style is accessible and direct. It seems to me that some parts work better than others.
 
It starts promisingly with a Processional based on the tune ‘Pa-ta-pa-ta-pan’, which segues (3:39) into the Kyrie. This Kyrie section, I think, is less successful for two reasons. Firstly, it is based on ‘Noël nouvelet’; nothing wrong with that except that the tune can be repetitive and, frankly, Whitbourn’s treatment of it is nowhere near as inventive as, say, that of Stephen Jackson – to be honest, it outstays its welcome a bit. Also, even at a Christmas Mass the Kyrie is still a penitential moment - the words are ‘Lord, have mercy’, after all. I don’t hear much by way of a request for forgiveness in Whitbourn’s setting. The main melodic inspiration for the Gloria is ‘God rest ye merry, gentlemen’. This is a suitably festive movement but I have a sense that the music and words are being shoehorned together a bit uncomfortably at times. The Sanctus, based on ‘In dulci jubilo’, works much better, I think, as does the Benedictus, where the use of Ravenscroft’s ‘Remember, O thou Man’ is very suitable. The Agnus Dei employs the Polish carol ‘Infant lowly’ to very good effect and in this movement Whitbourn’s music has charm.
 
The remainder of the programme includes pieces by some of the most interesting contemporary British composers of vocal music. One of the foremost of these is James MacMillan. His Dominus Dabit Benigniatem is challenging but rewarding both to hear and, I should think, to sing. This choir is no stranger to the composer’s music, having made a very fine recording of his Cantos Sagrados and other music in 2003 (review). I wasn’t surprised, therefore, that they make a very good job of this present piece, even though a comparison of the choir lists in the two booklets confirms that there have been many personnel changes since 2003. O Radiant Dawn, with its thematic reference to Tallis’s O nata lux, is a much simpler, more direct piece and it’s well done here.
 
The usual tune for Ravenscroft’s Remember, O thou Man crops up in the Whitbourn Mass, so it’s fascinating to hear Bob Chilcott’s modern take on the same words. His setting is mildly blues-inflected. It’s certainly different and Chilcott’s tune lodges in the memory. I like the piece. Impressive too, though very different, is John McCabe’s I Sing of a Maiden, which uses a solo SATB quartet as well as the choir; though I didn’t hear the “extraordinary stillness” that Sam Laughton mentions in his note. It’s only recently that I’ve come across Francis Pott’s fine A Hymn to the Virgin on a disc devoted to his music made by the choir Commotio. On that disc the pacing is fractionally slower and though the difference is marginal I think the Commotio performance gives the music just a bit more space – but the Elysian performance is a good one.
 
Stephen McNeill’s Carol of the Birds is an attractive piece in which both the melody and the surrounding harmonies take some unexpected and interesting turns. The piece by Tarik O’Regan, written for The Elysian Singers, is a demanding one which contains some effective choral writing – as usual from this composer – especially for the upper voices. I like the use of a harp to accompany the singers. The instrument’s sound conveys innocence but, perhaps also, a degree of chill.
 
The choir, which numbers twenty-nine, sings well – to judge by the photos in the booklet they’re all fairly young and they make a light, fresh sound and sing with enthusiasm and commitment. Several members of the choir take solos and all do well but I single out for special mention Geraldine Mynors, the soloist in Goodall’s arrangement of The Angel Gabriel. She has a rich, well focused voice and her singing is polished.
 
There’s some interesting Christmas music here by contemporary British composers, which can be enjoyed at times other than the Festive Season. The music is well performed and well recorded, and even when Christmas itself has passed for another year it will be worthwhile listening to this disc to invoke The Spirit of Christmas Present.
 
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.