O Guiding Night: The Spanish Mystics

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COMPOSERS: Ruth Byrchmore and Roderick Williams,Tarik O’Regan
WORKS: Works by Tarik O’Regan, Ruth Byrchmore and Roderick Williams
PERFORMER: The Sixteen/Harry Christophers


This CD resulted from a co-commission: all three composers were asked to set two texts by the medieval Spanish saints Teresa of Ávila and John of the Cross. The pieces are predictably varied. Most conservative in idiom are those of Roderick Williams, moonlighting from his day job as a baritone. His St John setting O Guiding Night is striking for the instinctive word-setting and audibly engaging the singers. Warm, untroubled consolation and reassurance characterise Let Nothing Trouble You, Williams’s take on the St Teresa text, where Tarik O’Regan’s response is harmonically more ambivalent. Ruth Byrchmore goes furthest in acknowledging that there is plenty to be troubled about, in the unsettled chiaroscuro of her Prayer of St Teresa. Byrchmore’s instinct for the dramatic erupts fully in the crunching organ chords launching The Dark Night, while O’Regan relies on an ululating underlay of voices to evoke the erotic, visionary nature of St John’s clandestine nocturnal assignation. Harry Christophers and The Sixteen nail it expertly. Terry Blain