COMPOSERS: Bouzignac,Dunstaple,Grier,Jackson,Palestrina,Skempton,Victoria & Daniel-Lesur,Walton
ALBUM TITLE: Song of Songs
WORKS: Choral works by Walton, Bouzignac, Skempton, Jackson, Grier, Dunstaple, Palestrina, Victoria & Daniel-Lesur
PERFORMER: Laudibus/Mike Brewer
CATALOGUE NO: DCD 34042
As Anthony Burton indicates in the booklet, although it is frequently argued that The Song of Solomon is an allegory of the
soul’s relationship with the deity,
it is difficult not to accept it as what it appears to be, a celebration of erotic love. That said, several pieces here lean towards the reverent and spiritual rather than the sensual and sexual, if only because of the circumstances of their creation.
Even then, the nature of the inspiration for these works is not necessarily straightforward: Palestrina, in dedicating his book of settings to the Pope as an apology for earlier madrigals on the subject of profane love, conceded that the music was ‘somewhat livelier than I have been accustomed to use in ecclesiastical melodies.’
The mixture of music from five centuries is successful, the leaps in time barely perceptible. Whether ostensibly promoting religious devotion or glorying in physical love, each work is pervaded with a controlled yet sensuous pleasure in texture and melody, and it’s pleasing to hear some
lesser-known composers next to the usual suspects. Skempton and Jackson’s settings, holding their own alongside even Victoria,
receive welcome premiere recordings. The cover design may suggest a budget-compilation of R&B-lite hits, but the music, performances
and sound on the disc are warm, sensitive and luminous.