Good night, beloved
Works by Bax, Chilcott, Cornysh, Maxwell Davies, MacMillan, Stanford, Todd, Whitacre, R Williams, etc
Jeremy Budd (tenor); The Sixteen/Harry Christophers; Christopher Glynn (piano)
CORO COR16184 68:48 mins
This fine disc from The Sixteen promises the listener ‘music to escape to’. With a programme that spans some 500 years and features everything from William Cornysh to a new commission from Roderick Williams, the album is an enchanting collection of works loosely themed around the night, from lullabies and nocturnes to the music of late-night revelry.
The disc’s title track is a highlight: ‘Good night, good night, beloved’ by 19th-century Italian composer Ciro Pinsuti is a melodious part song which receives a gloriously unbuttoned reading here. Other gems include James MacMillan’s ‘Children are a heritage of the Lord’, its bittersweet harmonies rendered with seemingly effortless blend and ensemble by the choir, and Williams’s soaring arrangement of the Hebridean folksong ‘Eriskay Love Lilt’, which offers a gentle celebration of Scottish melody and landscape. The disc also features a commendably nuanced account of Stanford’s much-loved ‘The Blue Bird’ and, by welcome contrast, the bawdy ‘I am a jolly foster’ (anon.) from Henry VIII’s songbook, which is carried off with real gusto by the choir’s lower voices. In turn, the upper voices more than prove their mettle in a terrific performance of Bax’s Mater ora filiumwhere the sopranos glide up to a seemingly endless top C towards the work’s close without a flicker.
With such a miscellany of composers included, it’s disappointing not to see a single female composer featured. Putting this not insubstantial question aside, this is however an excellent album in all other respects, beautifully performed and expertly produced.