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Bob CHILCOTT (b. 1955)
Sun, Moon, Sea and Stars - Songs and Arrangements
Tenebrae Consort/Nigel Short
rec. Fotheringhay Church of St. Mary and All Saints, Northamptonshire, 1-3 July 2015 (1-19); All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London, 15 July 2015
BENE ARTE SIGCD903 [63:44]

My knowledge of Bob Chilcott’s music is limited to a few recordings, as well as a few discs each with one or two tracks by him. I do have the wonderful Signum Man I Sing (SIGCD100 - review) and The Rose in the Middle of Winter (Naxos 8.573159 - review), either of which I would heartily endorse as modern examples of the great British choral tradition. I would love to hear this music performed live, as there is a great sense of ensemble in the music.

This present disc presents the listener with twenty-two short pieces which can be divided into three sections: original songs of which there are five; these include the title piece Sun, Moon, Sea and Stars, for which Chilcott also wrote the words. These settings develop and portray the emotion of the texts well with some nice vocal effects.

There are four songs that are arrangements of well known pieces including George Gershwin’s Fascinating Rhythm. This piece really brings out the fun of this music, with the opening never failing to bring a smile to my face. On the other hand there is the setting of William Walton’s Touch Her Soft Lips from his orchestral music to the film of Shakespeare’s Henry V. Here Chilcott beautifully portrays the angst of parting and of longing.

The greatest part of this disc is given over to arrangements of traditional pieces. It is in these that Bob Chilcott shows himself to be really adept at producing modern and pleasing settings of some well known songs. He is a worthy successor to the likes of Vaughan Williams and Britten. The disc opens with En La Macarenita which is given an easy latin jazz spirit, whilst Feller from Fortune is just pure fun and must bring such a smile to the singers. Of the three North-American songs Shenandoah is given an arrangement that stands up well to the famous version by Percy Grainger, whilst that of The Gift to be Simple is one of pure beauty. There are also some lovely settings of French, such as Viens par le pré and Montagnarde, and Japanese songs that make this a most enjoyable collection, one I will enjoy for a long time.

I have always relished the sound produced by Tenebrae and Nigel Short and have a number of their CD releases. Here they perform as the Tenebrae Consort and what he hear has the feeling of a real performance, one that it sounds as if the singers have really enjoyed. In some of the settings they are asked not only to sing the words, but also to vocalise the accompaniment, even on one occasion to whistle and clap. In every case their music-making is infectious. Brief notes and full texts to most of the songs are included and they are recorded in a pleasing acoustic.

This is a very attractive disc of well sung song arrangements. These would sit well in a many a choral occasion and should be taken up by choirs near and far.

Stuart Sillitoe

Previous review: John Quinn

Track listing
1. En La Macarenita Trad. arr. Bob Chilcott [2.40]
2. Sun, Moon, Sea and Stars Bob Chilcott [3.38]
3. Feller from Fortune Trad. arr. Bob Chilcott [4.16]
4. She's Like the Swallow Trad. arr. Bob Chilcott [4.34]
5. L'habitant de Saint Barbe Trad. arr. Bob Chilcott [0.56]
6. The Lazy Man Trad. arr. Bob Chilcott [1.33]
7. Shenandoah Trad. arr. Bob Chilcott [3.50]
8. The Gift to be Simple Trad. arr. Bob Chilcott [2.14]
9. Swimming Over London Bob Chilcott [3.54]
10. Go Little Boat Jerome Kern arr. Bob Chilcott [2.26]
11. Fascinating Rhythm George Gershwin arr. Bob Chilcott [1.23]
12. Con amores, la mi madre Juan de Anchieta arr. Bob Chilcott [2.19]
13. Là-bas dans cette plaine Trad. arr. Bob Chilcott [2.03]
14. Viens par le pré Trad. arr. Bob Chilcott [3.13]
15. Montagnarde Trad. arr. Bob Chilcott [3.06]
16. Aka tombo Trad. arr. Bob Chilcott [2.19]
17. Furusato Trad. arr. Bob Chilcott [2.56]
18. 'Tuoll' on mun kultani Trad. arr. Bob Chilcott [2.57]
19. Marriage to my Lady Poverty Bob Chilcott [5.00]
20. Thou, My Love, Art Fair Bob Chilcott [3.47]
21. Touch Her Soft Lips William Walton arr. Bob Chilcott [1.58]
22. Even Such Is time Bob Chilcott [2.42]



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