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Jonathan Dove • Matthew Martin • Judith Weir: Choral Works

Choir of Westminster Abbey/James O’Donnell; Peter Holder (organ) (Hyperion)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Jonathan Dove •Matthew Martin • Judith Weir
Dove: Vast Ocean of Light; Missa brevis; They will rise; M Martin: In the midst of thy temple; The Westminster Service; Sitivit anima mea; O Oriens; Behold now, praise the Lord; Weir: The true light; His mercy endureth for ever; Truly I tell you
Choir of Westminster Abbey/James O’Donnell; Peter Holder (organ)
Hyperion CDA68350    64:27 mins


This excellent collection of contemporary British choral works is a breath of fresh air, offering a gladly unstuffy vision of church music for the 21st century.

Dove’s vocal music seems to have a near-magical capacity to combine sensuous delight with great depth and clarity of expression, all without a hint of sentimentality. The blazing opening anthem ‘Vast ocean of Light’ is a fine example of just this and is delivered with radiant timbre from the choir, while the score’s glittering accompaniment is performed with notable verve by organist Peter Holden. Dove’s Missa brevis that follows is framed by two more introspective movements which in turn highlight the choir’s wide expressive range.

It’s a treat to find three choral works by Judith Weir collected here, and each is a gem. These varied works traverse everything from the sombre intensity of ‘The true light’, written in commemoration of the end of the First World War, to the reassuring warmth exuded by the anthem ‘Truly I tell you’.

The disc is completed by five fine works by Matthew Martin, which meld complex harmonies with a rich sense of colour and drama. ‘O Oriens’ is a particular highlight for its imaginative choral textures. Written to be performed with voices scattered throughout the space, the work features a passage of quasi-improvisational vocal layering that is remarkably affecting in its swirling mystery.

Beautifully performed and skilfully recorded, this is an altogether rewarding listen that inspires reflection and devotion.

Kate Wakeling

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