Gorecki/Part/Tavener

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Gorecki/Part/Tavener
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Totus tuus; Amen; Magnificat; The Beatitudes; Funeral Ikos; Magnificat & Nunc dimittis
PERFORMER: Stuart Tibbs (tenor), Guy Johnston (treble); Choir of King’s College, Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 55096 2 DDD
A Pole rejoicing in the revival of the Catholic church since the fall of Communism; an Estonian whose musical language encompasses both the native Russian Orthodox church and western medieval music; an Englishman who joined the Greek Orthodox church: what a fascinating expression of the diversity of Christian tradition in Europe. And how baffling that the choir which is linking all three men’s music on disc should be that bastion of the English choral tradition, King’s College Choir.

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Very recent religious works (the oldest piece was written less than 20 years ago) are thematically linked on this disc with the church’s most ancient music, Gregorian chant. The contrast between old and new is often hardly noticeable: all three composers’ music is indelibly imprinted with the musical roots of their religious cultures.

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The choir acquits itself well in this relatively unfamiliar repertoire. The boys, particularly, sing Gregorian chant as if it is as natural to them as speech (the men’s melismas can occasionally sound pedestrian in comparison). All of the works here are easily accessible; many, such as Tavener’s Funeral Ikos and Górecki’s Totus tuus, are quite simple in style. Stephen Cleobury’s imaginative programming pays off, and the recorded sound has just the right level of resonance. Janet Banks