A Rose Magnificat
Howells: Salve Regina; J Lane: There is No Rose; Leighton: Of a rose is all my song; MacMillan: Ave Maris Stella; Martin: A Rose Magnificat; Park: Ave Maris Stella; J Sheppard: Ave Maris Stella; Tallis: Videte miraculum; Warlock: As dew in Aprylle; R White: Magnificat; Wylkynson: Salve Regina
Gabrieli Consort/Paul McCreesh
Signum Classics SIGCD536 77:52mins
‘A symbol of both chastity and fertility, of virgin and mother; a woman inviolate yet often presented erotically.’ Paul McCreesh’s reflections on Mary frame this CD examining how the Virgin’s story has been illustrated in music of the Renaissance and modern periods. Elements of the erotic surface at the outset, in Kenneth Leighton’s Of a rose is all my song, the floated melismas of soprano Ruth Provost draping gently over the surface of the music. A different type of sensuality – pulsing, vibrant, variegated – informs the Gabrieli’s masterly performance of Tallis’s Videte miraculum, the passages of plainchant just as ear-catchingly energised as the polyphonic sections around them. Perhaps surprisingly, there are moments of relative levity too. Peter Warlock’s As dew in Aprylle is given a delightfully light, traipsing account, the tricky harmonies etched in with insouciance. Sweet tuning and subtle dynamic distinctions mark James MacMillan’s Ave maris stella, with gleamingly pure-toned contributions from the sopranos. The transitions from introspection to elated confidence in Howells’s Salve Regina are beautifully managed by McCreesh and his singers, and the hushed coda is soothingly placid. Technically the most difficult piece is probably Matthew Martin’s A Rose Magnificat. Written for double choir, the work has multiple layered textures, sharp switches of dynamic, and complicated interactions between the two groups of singers. It is daily meat and drink to the superlative Gabrieli choir, who give a formidably encompassing performance. Excellent recorded sound sets the seal on another outstanding issue from this outstanding team.