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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Regent
WORKS: The Armour of Light, and other choral works
PERFORMER: Wells Cathedral Choir/Matthew Owens


Since he first visited Wells nine years ago the American composer Gary Davison has had a special relationship with the cathedral and its singers, who deliver now the first CD completely devoted to his music. Davison is a choirmaster himself, and it shows in the user-friendliness of his writing: the glowing harmonies and grateful melodies of My Song Shall be Always are clearly relished by the girl choristers in particular.

The influence of John Tavener is discernible in the drone-like foundation material in The Armour of Light, but the piece develops a voice of its own, with evocative use of a semi-chorus, touchingly realised here by the small group of selected singers. The compact Banffshire Mass, an unaccompanied setting, tests both the choir’s pitching and its ability to keep ensemble tight as text is zipped though briskly by the composer. Both tests are confidently negotiated.


The moody chiaroscuro of Davison’s Te Deum, and its moments of surging drama, are impressively projected, and the Nunc dimittis from Palace Garden Canticles, with ringing trumpet, burgeons thrillingly. There is much substantial music on this disc, all of it realised with unflappable distinction by Matthew Owens and his singers. Terry Blain