Rebecca Dale Materna Requiem; When Music Sounds*
Louise Alder (soprano), Trystan Griffiths (tenor); Kantos Chamber Choir; *Cantus Ensemble; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/ Clark Rundell; *The Studio Orchestra/Jeff Atmajian
Decca 4834076 70:19 mins
British composer Rebecca Dale has musical roots in both the worlds of concert and film composition. Incorporating lush tonal harmonies and an unabashed lyricism, Dale’s crossover style has won the composer a considerable following. These two works for voices and orchestra are richly cinematic in colour but teeter frustratingly between powerful emotional charge and an uncomplicated sentimentalism that may not be to all tastes. Materna Requiem (2018) was composed as a tribute to the composer’s mother. At times, the work feels more like a somewhat formulaic soundtrack than standalone score, particularly in the rather saccharine ‘Pie Jesu’ for tenor (albeit well sung by Trystan Griffiths). Yet it is not without highlights, including the final movement for unaccompanied voices which is arrestingly lovely. While the Requiem otherwise sets the Catholic Mass, here Dale turns to Joyce Grenfell’s stoic ‘If I Should go’ (‘Parting is hell / But life goes on / So sing as well’). Dale sets this simple, affecting text with deliciously rich harmonies and unexpected melodic turns. Beautifully sung by the Kantos Chamber Choir, it brings the work to a radiant close.
Dale’s choral symphony When Music Sounds (2014) closes the disc and features the track ‘I’ll Sing’ which shot to the top of the classical charts. It is a stirring and generous piece, full of soaring melodies and cheering climaxes, and here well performed by Cantus Ensemble. Dale wears her heart on her sleeve and her music may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this vibrant celebration of the music’s power is an uplifting conclusion to this debut disc.