Jackson Beyond The Stars

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Gabriel Jackson
LABELS: Delphian
ALBUM TITLE: Jackson Beyond The Stars
WORKS: Sacred Works, Vol. 2: Missa Sanctae Margaretea; Hymn to St Margaret of Scotland; Jesu, Rex admirabilis, etc.
PERFORMER: Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh/Duncan Ferguson; Nicholas Wearne (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 1209060

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It’s the sheer fervour of the singing in Gabriel Jackson’s The Glory of the Lord which gets you as it leaps, skids, and (at the conclusion) yelps its paean of praise into the vibrant acoustic of St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh. The piece is bursting with the desire to worship, and the performance by the Cathedral’s choir is scintillating.

Organist Nicholas Wearne surfs that initial wave of energy in the explosive opening of the instrumental Fanfare for St Mary’s, then throttles back for The Christ-child, a mainly sweet-flavoured, contemplative setting where Jackson’s instinct for ecstacy shoots skyward again in the peroration, a solo treble capping the choral tutti.

Strong lyrical writing, incorporating sinewy slices of octave doubling, characterises the Missa Sanctae Margaretae, whose gentle Kyrie and reflective Agnus Dei are particularly impressive. The choir’s tightness of ensemble, and its ability to retain tonal fullness in snappily syncopated, syllabic passages, are tested in Let us all rejoice in the Lord, and not found wanting.

What constantly impresses through this programme, aside from the evident quality of Jackson’s music, is the visceral charge and exuberance of the St Mary’s singers under their young conductor Duncan Ferguson. The results are absolutely fresh in impact and filled to overflowing with verve and commitment.

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Terry Blain