WORKS: Mirror of Perfection
PERFORMER: Ying Huang (soprano), Bo Skovhus (baritone); Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, Ballard Lane Preparatory School Choir, Bournemouth Sinfonietta/Richard Blackford
CATALOGUE NO: SK 60285
Mirror of Perfection was inspired by Assisi, the home of St Francis, and by St Francis’s poetry. It’s a beautiful and touching work, direct in manner, with many exquisite, well-conceived passages for strings, attractive chorus writing, and some ravishing sequences for both the top-notch soloists. Its seven well-contrasted sections evince a spirit of simplicity, naivety and rapture wholly apt to the idiom of the texts they set, embracing an essentially tonal, traditional approach, yet skirting, for all this, the mawkish, the unduly sentimental, or the kitsch.
Both of Blackford’s soloists are superbly sympathetic : Bo Skovhus’s melting close to ‘Canticle of the Creatures’ (‘Altissimu, omnipotente bonsignore’), his moving conclusion to ‘Canticle of the Birds’ (‘Il vous a choisi’), and Ying Huang’s rapt intoning of ‘Che cielo e terra’, ushered in by almost Parsifalian strings, are positively uplifting. The words of the female chorus are not quite as clear as the men’s, but their crucial hymn ‘Amore, amore’ is beautifully limpid and lucid. The inspired simple invention of the string writing, as in the enchanting short scherzo, ‘Canticle of the Furnace’, or the delicate pizzicato underlay to ‘Mes frères, les petits oiseaux’, makes for considerable variety and charm. Sony’s balance of soloists against chorus is spot on. Roderic Dunnett