Precious Things: Choral Music by Bernard Hughes


Devoted to Bernard Hughes's choral music and programmed in close collaboration between the composer and The Epiphoni Consort, this portrait recording reveals a composer for whom musical style grows naturally out of the provenance of his commissions and their chosen texts.

Himself a wordsmith, text setting and delivery are at the forefront of Hughes’s creative thinking, and Epiphoni, making a name for themselves in recordings of music by living British composers, are ideally suited to the delivery of Hughes’s diverse language, in performances that showcase their trademark luxuriant sound.

'This sparkling recording brings together an a cappeila feast of short choral pieces composed during the past decade by the British composer Bernard Hughes ... This selection is brimful with a wide variecy of mood and texture, and technical challenges aplency for the 27 members of the London-based Epiphoni Consort and its founder-director, Tim Reader ... 'It was a lover and his lasse' is a veritable earworm. It is worth buying the album just to repeatedly enjoy this song. The centrepiece of the programme is the multi-movement I Sing of Love (2012), which veers from increasingly stressful clustered textures in 'Medita tion II' to the sheer, lush close-harmony beaucy of'Love is patient, love is kind', topped off by Becky Ryland-Jones's clear 'white' soaring descant.'

'This new album from Delphian reflects quite how well-attuned Hughes is to writing new and varied choral repertoire suitable for all those different strata of ability in this vast community, just as Benjamin Britten was in his day ... Right at the opposite end of the scale from the easily singable is some devilishly complex material, the kind of stuff which is going to put top-level professional choirs through their paces ... The Epiphoni Consort occupy a rung near the top of the choral ladder, and are well directed by Tim Reader. Balance, intonation, clarity are so strong here, one almost takes all that for granted. The choir’s members are described as a flexible group of "people who sing to a professional standard but have other full-time careers". And we hear a lot of variety too, from small groups singing one to a part, right up to a full choir of nearly 30 voices. This album holds attention because its moods and inspirations come from so many places, and because it show Hughes’s remarkable versatility, adaptability and emotional range as a composer'

Sebastian Scotney, The Arts Desk
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'The music is generally tonal and beautifully written for voices ... This is certainly not minimal music, nor is it boringly the same; within his chosen compass, Hughes provides us with remarkable variety ... Throughout, the performances from Tim Reader and the Epiphoni Consort are near ideal. The choir makes a warm vibrant sound, yet with a lovely focused clarity and terrific attention to the words. Not only is there clarity of diction, but the words actually mean something. This is a very fine disc indeed to introduce Bernard Hughes intelligently and sympathetically written choral music'

★ ★ ★ ★
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"Choral music as we rarely hear it - generous, light-footed, surprising. I hope these pieces will be heard more often"


Release Date: 27 May 2022
Catalogue No: DCD34289
Total playing time: 68:47
Recorded on 3-5 September
2021 in All Hallows’, Gospel Oak
Producer/Engineer: Paul Baxter
24-bit digital editing: James Waterhouse
24-bit digital mastering: Paul Baxter
Design: Drew Padrutt
Booklet editor: Henry Howard
Cover art: FLY:D/unsplash
Session photography: Ben Tomlin
Singing In Secret: Clandestine Catholic Music by William Byrd CD Delphian Records


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