The Big Picture: Chilcott | McDowell | Weir

High in energy and rich in expression and range of subject matter, these three works for mixed choral and instrumental forces show contemporary British music at its most accessible and engaging. The massed forces of Bristol Choral Society are joined by a children’s choir – the stunning Bristol Youth Choir – and a solo soprano in Cecilia McDowall’s contemplation of the human lifespan and our place in the universe.

Bob Chilcott explores the sights and sounds of London through the ages, with the two choirs layering street cries, and piano duet and percussion tracking the changes of mood – from bustle to lyrical evocation – before the arrival of bells draws the work to a resonant conclusion. Master of the Queen’s Music Judith Weir explores associations between colour and harmony in a recent work originally designed for performance in the newly redesigned Aberdeen Art Gallery, where its three groups of performers were positioned on different levels of the gallery atrium. A solo clarinet initiates proceedings, and threads through the individual colour portraits to the final, rainbow-like zoom through the spectrum.

"It’s great to find one of the UK’s many provincial choral societies making a commercial CD – their first, I believe – and, moreover, to find the choir in such fine fettle ... it’s a further cause for celebration that the programme for this CD consists entirely of music written in the present century, offering proof that choral societies are far from mired in the past when it comes to repertoire.

The music on this CD is full of interest; all three works exploit the resources of the choir – and of the supporting instruments – to excellent effect. Hilary Campbell and her choirs give vivid and very well-prepared performances; everything is put across with skill and commitment. The instrumental accompaniments are equally well done"


read the full review here

"Bob Chilcott presents Songs & Cries of London Town; and Weir's title piece, with clarinet (Hannah Lawrence) on top of percussion and keyboard, evoked five colours in four movements - most notably Gold, a setting of Robert Frost - while the fifth affords a spectrum"


"The Bristol Choirs give a beautifully sustained performance"

★ ★ ★ ★

Release Date: 25 September 2020
Catalogue No: DCD34242
Total playing time: 53:56

Producer: Paul Baxter

Engineer: Matthew Swan

Recorded 11-13 Jan 2020, St George's Hall, Bristol

Cecilia MacDowell 

1. A Time For All Seasons

Featured interview


Katy Hamilton on The Big Picture

Katy Hamilton, researcher, writer and presenter on music, talks to the composers and performers to bring you the story of Bristol Choral Society's first release

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