ALBUM TITLE: Weir
WORKS: Storm; All the Ends of the Earth; Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis; Missa del Cid; The Song Sung True
PERFORMER: BBC Singers; Choristers of Temple Church; Endymion/David Hill
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD 421
The bright, jangling soundworld of Judith Weir’s All the Ends of the Earth immediately cleanses the aural palate: gleaming divided sopranos, structural punctuation from the tenors and basses, and tinkling tuned percussion transmit the joyful celebration of the natural world in the Psalm-based text. The tactic of writing lavish passages of fioritura for the upper voices is possibly overdone a little, though these are managed buoyantly by the singers.
In Missa del Cid, a narrator interpolates spoken material about the military exploits of the 11th-century warrior Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar. The juxtaposition with the music works better than you might imagine, and there’s some particularly effective writing in the opening Kyrie, where Moorish and Christian factions contend in curdled fashion, and in the fractured aftermath of battle which is the Agnus Dei.
Storm, setting texts from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, returns to the shimmering textures of All the Ends of the Earth, adding flutes and cellos to percussion to conjure the swell of waves and waft of magic that permeate the poetry. The writing for a choir of trebles (paired with women’s voices) is specially evocative in the crystalline ‘While you here do snoring lie’, where the insistent ticking of time is cleverly mimicked in the accompaniment for plucked cellos and tinkling percussion.
The brief Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis and The Song Sung True are useful makeweights, and the BBC Singers bring their customary high standards of versatility and execution to the table. Terry Blain