At First Light; Word
Joseph Spooner (cello), Christian Wilson (organ); Commotio/Matthew Berry
Naxos 8.573976 79:12 mins
Francis Pott’s music has had an increasing presence in performances and recordings for some years now, and these two works are good examples of his style. Both have an eclectic mix of liturgical and secular texts, in the broadest sense, and are expertly written for the choral forces.
The sopranos of Commotio are sometimes a little strained in the highest passages, and words are not always as clear as they might be (the printed texts are a necessary adjunct at times). But the group as a whole approaches the music with an involved sense of phrasing, and dynamic range and flexibility.
In At First Light, the chorus is complemented with a prominent cello part – the whole work starts with an extended solo – played here by Joseph Spooner, who is an eloquent advocate, although sometimes too forward in the balance. The blend is better inWord, where the organ is a more conventional partner, and equally well played.
Basically tonal, with some colourful chromatic inflections, the music is mostly slow, as befits the texts, although there are a few lively rhythmic movements, which somehow reminded me of Walton. Sometimes, though, I just wanted the composer to get a move on, but I suspect that’s not the point.