Julian Anderson: Choral Music

‘The desire to evoke the sensation of light was one reason why I became a composer,’ says Julian Anderson. Silverbright and brilliantly focused, the Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge is the ideal choice for this first recording devoted to Anderson’s choral music.

From the intimacy of the wedding anthem My beloved spake and ringing clarity of Bell Mass, to the virtuosic second of the Four American Choruses and the extraordinary sound-world conjured by the Nunc dimittis, commissioned specially with this recording project in view, Geoffrey Webber’s singers have lived with this music over a period of around two years before committing it to disc, and their deep sympathy for its marriage of immaculate technique with emotional directness is evident throughout.

"This is ravishing…Webber and the Choir of Gonville & Caius, Cambridge, shimmer and scintillate in conveying Anderson’s broad musical and emotional palette. It is clear that all involved have the kind of deep familiarity with these pieces that enables a sense of freshness and spontaneity, captured marvellously by Delphian in the beautiful acoustic of the chapel at Merton College, Oxford…The disc as a whole is a feast for the ears."

"It is an exemplary disc."

"As several of the items on this disc illustrate, Judith Weir has always been well able to conform to the conventions of, say, the King's College Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols without losing all sense of identity and purpose in the process...The undeniable advantage is provided by the new (2007) Jesus College organ, whose rumbling basses and raw, reedy tone colours are ideal for Wild Mossy Mountains and Ettrick Banks."

"The results are rich and engaging."

"The Gonville & Caius choir has worked with this material for two years under Geoffrey Webber, performing some of the material at Evensong and in concert, to the point where it sounds like their natural language; not ‘effortless’, but not effortful, either – just very lovely and accurate singing."

"Bell Mass, a five-part “missa brevis” composed for Westminster Abbey, and an acoustically self-aware essay like so many by Anderson, builds the resonance of the cathedral’s bells into the texture in precise detail, to rich effect. O Sing unto the Lord, a psalm setting, was written for Westminster Cathedral, for St Cecilia’s Day. I Saw Eternity, to a tiny slice of a Henry Vaughan poem, is five minutes of rapture"

"The Gonville and Caius Choir have been working up these performances over a period of two years, and this shows in their confident delivery of what sounds like some very difficult music. The recording, made not in their chapel, but in that of Merton College,Oxford, with its excellent acoustics, is exemplary"

"This first collection of a cappella and organ-accompanied choral works–an idiom not typically associated with Anderson–greatly benefits from luminous and lithe performances by the mixed-voice Choir of Gonville and Caius College under Geoffrey Webber’s deftly adroit direction. It adds considerable lustre to Anderson’s arsenal with music whose beauty and intensity of expression ranges seamlessly from the stark and stringent to the sensual and sublime."

Producer: Paul Baxter
Recording venue(s): Chapel of Merton College, Oxford
Recording dates: 2-4 July 2017
Physical format: Digipak
Number of discs: 1
First UK release date: July 20, 2018
Album ID: DCD34202
Total playing time: 1:01:54

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