DCD34240

Alex Woolf: Requiem

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A major statement by a composer still in his mid-twenties, Alex Woolf’s Requiem, composed in 2018, combines powerful expressive immediacy with an impressive ability to synthesise the diverse traditions that have grown up around the requiem genre in the past two hundred years, as it has moved from the church into the concert hall.

As in Britten’s War Requiem, the traditional Latin texts are brought into dialogue with modern-day poetry – here, three poems by the Welsh writer Gillian Clarke (who was National Poet of Wales from 2008 to 2016). Initially these exist in the separate sound-world of a solo tenor and piano, with a solo cello creating the bridge to the liturgical sphere of choir and organ. Yet ultimately, Clarke’s very human concerns focus and inflect Woolf’s approach to the religious texts, confirming the work’s trajectory from despair into consolation.

Nicky Spence, fresh from his triumph at the 2020 BBC Music Magazine Awards, is the solo tenor, joined by Delphian artists Iain Burnside and Philip Higham; and Woolf conducts his own choir Vox Luna in this strikingly personal work.

"an extraordinary achievement ... Woolf has already made his mark as a major force in UK music-making, and this ambitious piece displays his significant skill as a composer, drawing on a range of influences but crafting everything he writes with a fresh ear and great technical mastery ... Woolf's is an important, eloquent work that will speak eloquently to many people"

"Alex Woolf’s Requiem, on the Scots-based Delphian label, casts a freer, fresher perspective on the once iron-clad shackles of the centuries-old liturgical blueprint ... The work opens, nonetheless, in a darkish place. A sombre, subterranean introduction for cello and organ, transformed initially by the translucent entry of the choir ... It is Woolf’s ability to create an engaging continuity out of disparate elements that gives this entire work its ultimate sense of completeness - there is a sincerity and self-assurance running throughout this performance, conducted by the composer, that lends lasting emotional weight to a convincing Requiem for today"

Read the full review here

"Stylistically, clearly Fauré and Duruflé have been in the back of Woolf's mind, but the harmonic language often nods towards influential contemporary American voices, Morten Lauridsen and Eric Whitacre ... This is an enormously confident work, Woolf clearly knew what he wanted to achieve and did so ... a young man's response to the world today in all its complexity, by turns questioning, solacing and deeply responsive"

ROBERT HUGILL - read the full review here

★ ★ ★ ★

"The choral writing throughout is very fine, and beautifully sung by the sixteen or so voices of Vox Luna. There is some particularly adept part-writing in the Offertory, rising to satisfying radiance at ‘Quam olim Abrahae’, and very attractive use of solo voices – extremely well taken by members of the choir – toward the end of the Sanctus ... The performance of the work, under the conductor’s direction, is a deeply committed one ... Nicky Spence, Iain Burnside, Philip Higham and Anthony Gray all contribute to this, and I’m sure the composer is thrilled with the result. The recording is very fine, with considerable feel for the building"

MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

read the full review here

"It’s hard to believe, listening to Alex Woolf’s Requiem of 2018, that this is a composer in his mid 20s. To write a requiem at all is a major statement, and this one packs a whopping emotional punch through writing that seems to sit simultaneously within the requiem, English church and concert hall music traditions, while also giving us something entirely new"

Charlotte Gardner - DCS

Release Date: 23 October 2020

Recorded: 24-26 November 2019, St John the Evangelist, Upper Norwood

Producer: Paul Baxter

Editor: Matthew Swan

Catalogue Number: DCD34240

 

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