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Hyperion Records

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Seated Angels with Orbs in their Hands (c1348-1354) by Ridolfo di Arpo Guariento (c1310-c1370)
Museo Civico, Padua, Italy / Alinari / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67768
Recording details: June 2009
Wells Cathedral, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: September 2010
Total duration: 7 minutes 42 seconds

'Dove's fresh, diatonic idiom is coupled to a matchless sense of word-setting … he writes most gratefully for the voice, with the intensity of Kenneth Leighton, the bravura of Britten and the timeless ecstasy of Tavener … the Wells choristers tackle everything with aplomb, élan and evident enjoyment' (Gramophone)

'Matthew Owens has clearly prepared the choir with scrupulous sensitivity, and conducts with an incisive freshness … Dove's music is splendidly effective and brightly expressive' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Wells is currently enjoying a superb top line, rewardingly displayed in this collection of Jonathan Dove's radiant choral works, including a first recording of his sparkling Missa Brevis' (The Observer)

'Wells must currently stand as England's finest cathedral choir, and its legacy of promoting contemporary church music will remain long after every treble voice here has become a baritone, tenor or bass … as it stands today, that top line has unfailing precision of pitch and unaffected beauty of tone, while the men possess the flexibility and collective musicianship to underlay that top line with impeccable textural clarity and satisfying tonal depth … few will not respond to the sparkling and angelic 'Wellcome, all wonders in one sight!' … while 'Run, shepherds, run!' … adds a moment of high drama, reminding us vividly of Dove's operatic credentials … this disc offers some moments of pure magic and many truly uplifting experiences' (International Record Review)

'Into thy hands, using as texts two 12th-century prayers, offers evidence that modern religious choral music need not descend into wince-inducing happy-clappy idiocy. Dove charms and beguiles us, and the performances by the Wells Cathedral Choir under Matthew Owens are faultless. There’s also the recording quality, with the cathedral acoustic offering just enough reverberance to give the voices a heavenly glow' (TheArtsDesk.com)

I am the day
First line:
Soon to be born … I am alpha and o, and omega
composer
1999; commissioned by the Spitalfields Festival and first performed in December 1999 by Trinity College Choir, Cambridge
author of text
The Legend of St Christopher
author of text
Revelation 22: 16, 13

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
One of the methods of development used by contemporary ‘minimalists’ is the use of a motif which is then repeated again and again with a ‘binding’ feature such as a melody leading it into different pitches and tonal areas. Contrast in these pieces is usually provided by the introduction of a different repeated motif in another mood and dynamic. This is the pattern for I am the day, an unaccompanied work setting a brief Advent text from Revelation chapter 22 describing the promise of the coming of Jesus. It was a Spitalfields Festival commission, first performed in December 1999 by the choir of Trinity College, Cambridge. The key elements are the stillness of the opening bars, marked to be sung ‘with mystery’, and the following scherzo-like music which is ‘dancing and playful’. The second section maintains the melodic element of the first section sung by the basses while the upper voices sing short phrases taken from the Advent hymn O come, O come Emmanuel. This is highly effective as it acts almost like a distant memory of the hymn—something in the mind which one is trying to remember but, like a folk song learned in the cradle, the whole melody refuses to yield itself fully. The two contrasting elements return before a reflective ending has the trebles and altos gently wafting skywards like rising incense.

from notes by Paul Spicer © 2010

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