This is the fourth and final themed recording in a series that has confirmed Merton’s new choral foundation as one of the UK’s leading collegiate choirs. Benjamin Nicholas again draws from the landmark collection of more than fifty-five works written in celebration of the College’s 750th anniversary. Here, a new work by Judith Weir (newly appointed Master of the Queen’s Music) heads a set of the four Marian antiphons, all specially commissioned from female composers, while two further premiere recordings represent the work of regular Merton collaborators Gabriel Jackson and Matthew Martin.
At the other end of the chronological spectrum, Peter Phillips’ expert direction of Byrd’s rarely performed Salve Regina, a bold statement of Catholic faith from Reformation England, and of John Nesbett’s late 15th-century Magnificat, a piece whose neglect on disc is astonishing, completes this portrait in sound of a woman who – as characterised in Alexandra Coghlan’s illuminating booklet essay – is at once virgin and mother, human and God-bearer, suppliant and Queen of Heaven.
"The Delphian engineers capture superbly this excellent choir in its home chapel and one of the main delights of the programme is precisely the engaging mix of early and contemporary music."
"[a] fascinating and finely executed collection of anthems and motets…The 35-strong mixed voice choir possess perfect intonation and blend…this is not a disc to be missed.