Dove: The Passing of the Year

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COMPOSERS: Dove
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: The Passing of the Year
WORKS: The Passing of the Year; It sounded as if the streets were running; I Am the Day; Who Killed Cock Robin? etc
PERFORMER: Christopher Cromar (piano); Convivium Singers/Neil Ferris
CATALOGUE NO: 8.572733

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Many contemporary composers write for choirs, few with the sharp imagination and genuine originality of Jonathan Dove. The second movement of The Passing of the Year, a cycle for double chorus and piano commemorating the composer’s mother, is typical of Dove’s limpidity of thought and freshness: setting William Blake’s The narrow bud opens her beauties to the sun, he starts with filigree piano, then a soprano solo evoking the delicacy of spring’s awakening, before employing imitative fluttering figurations to suggest flowers blossoming.

It’s beautifully conceived music, soaring to a glorious, bright climax in this fine performance by the 30-voice Convivium Singers. The double choir is deployed antiphonally in the sixth of the cycle’s seven movements, Adieu! farewell earth’s bliss! . It sings different texts, intertwining with increasing intensity to the solemn thrum of Thomas Nashe’s death-haunted poetry.

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Of the shorter pieces, My love is mine (for solo mezzo) is notable for Dove’s casting of lines from the Song of Solomon in English folk-idiom, combining a vernal lyricism with the soft sensuality of the Biblical verses. Who Killed Cock Robin?, by contrast, is exuberantly entertaining, and the Convivium Singers rise enthusiastically to the virtuoso demands of its writing. Terry Blain