ALBUM TITLE: O’Regan
WORKS: Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis; Dorchester Canticles
PERFORMER: Choir of Clare College, Cambridge/Timothy Brown; James McVinnie (organ), Rafal Jezierski (cello), Adrian Spillett (percussion), Helen Tunstall (harp)
CATALOGUE NO: COLCD 130
Tarik O’Regan (b1978) is a significant new British voice, who deserves to be heard far and wide. His music communicates through the well-explored channels of warm, chordal sonority, but, crucially, neglects neither rhythmic vitality nor polyphonic weave. Consequently, there’s a real rigour to his music, and when it is performed with as much commitment as it is here, it is a transporting experience. Care Charminge Sleepe is one of the best pieces of English choral music I’ve heard in ages and is here given a heart-wrenching performance. The Dorchester Canticles, written to partner Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, is marvellous, ebullient stuff.
The sound of Clare choir is youthful and sometimes fragile, but that is mostly to its benefit. There is an urgent immediacy to their sound, as there is to the recording quality. Only occasionally do they overblow in pursuit of an uncompromising fortissimo. It’s a shame the accompanying organ is an electronic, whose diodes contribute a slightly sour note to the blend, but it is incisively operated by James MacVinnie. Tim Brown has pulled this choir up by its bootstraps over the past 25 years. Just now, Clare College Choir burns perhaps brightest of all in Cambridge’s well-stocked choral firmament. William Whitehead