Dove: There Was A Child

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LABELS: Signum Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Dove: There Was A Child
WORKS: I am the song/Birth; Childhood; A Song about myself; From all the Jails the Boys and Girls; Over the Fence; All shod with Steel; Romance; New Worlds/High Fleet; The Was a Child
PERFORMER: Joan Rodgers (soprano),Toby Spence (tenor); CBSO Chorus; CBSO/Simon Halsey


Faced with a commission to pay tribute to his friend’s son whose life was cut tragically short, Jonathan Dove could all too easily have turned to composing a Requiem. Instead, he has fashioned an oratorio celebrating childhood and young life from birth. A Walt Whitman poem gives the work its title and finale, in which innocence and experience are grafted on to an ecstatic sense of eternal continuity. Texts are adroitly assembled from authors such as Thomas Traherne and Emily Dickinson, and there’s a penultimate triptych involving Chidiock Tichborne, Shakespeare and Tennyson in musings on loss and grief. It all plays to Dove’s trademark strengths: the young choirs draw on his community music prowess and his approachable idiom shows his willingness to refract a multiplicity of influences, ranging from Walton to Britten to John Adams. The setting of Keats’s A Song about Myself is an impish Brittenesque scherzo, revelling

in the freshness of the children’s choir. In this live recording of its premiere, conductor Simon Halsey’s CBSO forces savour the music’s immediacy.


Paul Riley