A Rose Magnificat
Gabrieli Consort, Paul McCreesh
Over the years we have come to expect great things from Paul McCreesh’s choir and this new release certainly does not disappoint. Indeed this new release on Signum, containing reflections on the story of the Virgin Mary in a number of Renaissance works interspersed with works giving a modern perspective, exceeds even our high expectations.
This CD contains a truly fascinating and diverse collection of pieces that combine effectively and provide an enjoyable listening experience when played from beginning to end. The programme opens with with Kenneth Leighton’s setting of the 15th century text Of a rose is all my song with soprano Ruth Provost weaving the refrain around and through the homophonic choir texture most effectively. This is followed by a vibrant performance of Tallis’ magnificent 6-part Videte Miraculum. The third work, Peter Warlock’s As dew in Aprylle, is a short and rhythmically complex piece that is performed with delightful ease by this group of singers. Robert White’s flamboyant and substantial six-plus part Magnificat, contrasts well with the previous work; its inner movement giving the piece a timeless quality. Next we are given three versions of Ave maris stella; by James Macmillan, John Sheppard, and Owain Park. I particularly enjoyed the step-wise chant-like melody in Park’s offering. McCreesh then gives us the opportunity to compare Robert Wylkynson’s massive nine-voice Eton Choirbook setting, the earliest work on the disk, with Herbert Howells’ Renaissance-inspired Salve Regina. The former, with its two and three voice textures set against a wall of sound and the latter that ends so effectively with a soprano voice floating above the choir. Jonathan Lane’s There is no rose acts as an effective aperitif for the main work – a first performance on CD of the title piece A Rose Magnificat composed by the young, and clearly talented, British composer Matthew Martin and commissioned by the Gabrieli Consort. This work runs to more than ten minutes and is a large-scale and complex double choir setting full of texture and colour. The Gabrielli Consort sing this work with surety and verve leading to a thrilling performance that positively encourages the listener to replay this new and unfamiliar piece.
This has to be the choral CD of the year thus far! The Gabrielli Consort, under McCreesh, give an outstanding performance that is caught in superb sound by the Signum engineers. The CD is beautifully packaged with an excellent booklet containing the words of all the works, a fascinating conversation between Paul McCreesh, Matthew Martin and Jeremy Summerly, and notes about the performers. Indeed this is the standard that all CD releases should strive to reach. We have no hesitation in making this release our CD of the Month for May 2018.