Bob Chilcott: Canticles of Light
NFM Choir; Members of the Wrocław Philharmonic/Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny (Signum Classics)
Bob Chilcott: Canticles of Light; Move him into the sun; Sing the Colour of Peace; Cecilia McDowall: Standing as I do before God; James MacMillan: A Child’s Prayer; Francis Pott: Lament
NFM Choir; Members of the Wrocław Philharmonic/Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny
Signum Classics SIGCD729 60:26 mins
Most of the music in this recital is by English composer Bob Chilcott, and it begins with the tolling bells of his 1999 triptych Canticles of Light. The NFM Choir of Wrocław, Poland has recorded Chilcott before, and brings a bright-toned confidence to the opening ‘Te lucis ante terminum,’ movement, and an intense engagement with the meaning of the Latin text in the central ‘Christe, qui, splendor et dies’.
Chilcott’s Move him into the sun dates from 2018, and commemorates the centenary of war poet Wilfred Owen’s death. Tenor Sebastian Mach’s plangent solo in ‘Apologia pro Poemate meo’ is a highlight here, feelingly supported by players from the Wrocław Philharmonic. Elsewhere in the 26-minute piece, despite the choir’s excellence, the music’s tone can seem emotionally unvariegated.
James MacMillan’s A Child’s Prayer is a sterner test both technically and expressively, and its layered textures and extremes of dynamic are sharply delineated by conductor Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny. In Cecilia McDowall’s Standing as I do before God the choir’s ability to consistently compel attention is again evident, as it is in a searching account of Francis Pott’s Lament. Bob Chilcott himself produced the recording, and full texts and translations are provided.