Advent at Merton

The beginning of Advent is celebrated with a particular solemnity at Merton. For its second recording, the choir explores the musical riches that adorn this most special time in the church year, centring on a newly commissioned sequence of Magnificat antiphons from seven leading composers including Howard Skempton, Ēriks Ešenvalds and Sir John Tavener.

The mingled hopes, fears and expectations of the season are beautifully articulated by this fervent body of young singers.

"At the heart of this Advent service is a set of seven antiphons specially commissioned from seven composers for Merton College chapel. They work splendidly as a sequence...Peter Phillips and Benjamin Nicholas elicit high levels of technical and expressive achievement from their student charges."

"The most notable chapel choir offering [this Christmas]...All the music is radiant, all of it is unexpected, including a set of seven Advent antiphons commissioned by the chaplain...and comes from a choir that's gone from being a minor player in Oxbridge choral music to becoming one of the most exciting groups in its area"

"This richly varied collection of mainly contemporary music for Advent, most of it directed by Nicholas, is exquisitely sung...a fine seasonal disc."

"The singing is fresh and opulent, and delivered with a clarity and precision that sits pleasingly with the resonant ambience of the recordings."

"The fresh, well-blended voices show vitality and drill, but the basses, in particular, bloom beautifully in James MacMillan's Advent Antiphon and John Tavener's O Adonai."

"The radiant young voices, sumptuous acoustics and quality items s should make for gripping listening all year round"

"an absorbing programme including seven Advent Antiphons commissioned for the choir by the Revd Dr Simon Jones…The quality of the singing throughout is very high – this is an immensely accomplished and responsive mixed-voice choir…This disc is an impressive achievement in every way…Delphian’s recorded sound is beautiful."

"One of a handful of recordings that will stand head and shoulders above the flood of discs of music for the 2012 Christmas season"

"a satisfyingly solemn, serious affair. Here, the Advent progression from hushed anticipation to bright, hopeful light is given extra weight by the varied choice of material sung...the mixture of settings ancient and modern succeeds beautifully...Lovely, in other words."

Producer: Paul Baxter
Recording venue(s): Chapel of Merton College, Oxford
Recording dates: 14-16 April 2012
Physical format: Digipack
Number of discs: 1
Number of tracks: 18
Release date: 22 October 2012
Total playing time: 0:56:21
Album ID: DCD34122

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