WORKS: Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal; Stabat Mater; Locus Iste; Ave Maria; Ubi Caritas; She Walks in Beauty; O Vos Omnes; Salvator Mundi: Greater Love
PERFORMER: Tenebrae/Nigel Short
CATALOGUE NO: Decca 476 4814


Around two billion people around the world watched the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton last year. That’s the mother of all shop windows for the Welsh composer Paul Mealor, whose motet Ubi Caritas was sung on that occasion.

It’s sung again on this selection of Mealor’s choral music, its mixture of expressive lyricism with occasional unexpected harmonic shadings beautifully rendered in Tenebrae’s impeccable performance. The same penchant for peppering his writing with sudden twists of harmony and modulation characterises the four settings of Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal, premiered in 2010. ‘Upon a Bank’ is the most distinctive of these, a balletic movement, brilliantly executed by Nigel Short’s singers.

It’s arguable that the easy warmth and approachability of Mealor’s idiom doesn’t sit as appropriately with the subject-matter of the Stabat Mater, which has more the whiff of concert hall than cloister about it. Salvator Mundi is more convincingly inward, traces of melismatic writing giving the warp and weft of the music more intricate detail than in the other pieces.


Terry Blain