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Will TODD (b. 1970)
Lux et Veritas - Music for Peace and Reflection
Remembrance [4:24]
No More Sorrow [5:13]
Softly [3:30]
For Peace [6:24]
A Celtic Blessing [5:46]
Precious Moment [4:37]
Encircled [4:11]
Agnus Dei [5:05]
In this Place [4:31]
Exalt UsIn Your Love [5:42]
Tidings [5:14]
Sanctus [2:03]
O Lux Beata [6:07]
Christus est stella [3:31]
Tenebrae
English Chamber Orchestra/Nigel Short
rec. St Augustine's Kilburn, London, 17-19 March 2014
Texts & English translations of Latin texts included<
SIGNUM SIGCD394 [66:18]

No ragged edges or raging anger here, although we know from his St Cuthbert, his opera Brune l and The Blackened Man that both - and more - lie within Will Todd's expressive compass.

The title of the disc is a faithful reflection of the content. Here are fourteen choral pieces ranging in duration from 6:24 to 2:03. They are discreetly accompanied by orchestra and/or organ or piano. The style is accessible - perhaps a little commercial and soft focus at times but by no stretch of the imagination facile. The settings honour the words rather than riding roughshod over their landscape.

Tenebrae is a professional chamber choir and this shows in every cooling bar they sing here. The music moves from the softly consolatory and undulating ripple of Remembrance, which is both instantly accessible and touching, to the greater complexity and intricate balance of For Peace. This latter is notable for a slow eruption of exaltation. It also has a truly effective instantaneous acceleration of the pulse towards the close and then a falling away.

These pieces often deploy a slow and plangent ostinato patterning - a cooling pulsation in the piano, played here by James Sherlock who also plays the organ. There are many telling moments but I also single out, in Encircled, the quietly lovely burred singing from the men and later the use of a sweetly intoned solo violin. There's a fluttery jazziness in the outstanding Tidings which has the bright, eager way of Geoffrey Bush whose songs have just been celebrated afresh in a Lyrita CD. In Sanctus we hear a downy softness. Lux Beata has a plainchant patina although an organ is present to accentuate the monastic coolness of the music. By the way, the organ also takes a role in a Celtic Blessing. More than once Todd snatches precious moments with dizzily high and numinous bluebird notes which light the way.

The words are included in the booklet with the Latin texts also shown in English translation.

Signum have been a haven for Will Todd’s music and The Call of Wisdom, featuring music commissioned for HRH The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee service in St Paul’s Cathedral in 2012 serves as testimony. The larger Will Todd Ensemble has also recorded Mass in Blue with the Vasari Singers for Signum.

Todd premières over the last decade have included the Requiem for choir, soprano and electric guitar, commissioned and premiered by the Fairhaven Singers in 2009; Te Deum for the Vivace Chorus under Jeremy Backhouse and Jazz Concerto for Clarinet – a new clarinet concerto for Emma Johnson. Plans include a setting of Keats' Ode to a Nightingale for Hertfordshire Chorus and the New York première of Mass in Blue at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

I do hope that Signum will give us more Todd. We need to hear his Violin Concerto as well as the two symphonic tone poems: Keats and Dylan Thomas not to mention the astonishingly impressive grand opera Brune l and his more recent Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Meantime don't miss this movingly accessible and genuinely sensitive choral collection.

Rob Barnett
 
Interview with the composer