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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: 5 minutes 10 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)

Wellcome, all wonders in one sight!
composer
1990; composed for South Wilts A Cappella for performance in Salisbury Cathedral
author of text
An Hymne of the Nativity, sung as by the shepherds

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Wellcome, all wonders in one sight! was written for South Wilts A Cappella (a choir from South Wilts Grammar School) to sing in Salisbury Cathedral. It is an unaccompanied setting of a section of an extended poem called ‘An Hymne of the Nativity, sung as by the shepherds’ by the seventeenth-century metaphysical poet Richard Crashaw. This poem has a chorus of shepherds who encourage the two principal characters (also shepherds), Tityrus and Thyrsis, to tell what they saw at Christ’s birth. Dove uses a very small section of the chorus and part of a verse when both Tityrus and Thyrsis speak together (‘We saw thee in thy balmy nest’). Dove has written of Crashaw’s paradoxical imagery which spoke strongly to him: ‘Eternity shut up in a span. Summer in winter, day in night’, which, with remarkable economy, conveys the power of this miraculous event.

Dove’s setting uses the constant repetition of the words ‘wellcome wonder’ as an accompanimental motif which rocks like the cradle and perhaps also suggests the hushed awe of the shepherds. Around this, first the trebles, then the first basses, and later still the tenors, sing the full text in beautifully lyrical lines which Dove instructs to be sung ‘with awe’. Coming to the end of the first section, which returns in the middle and near the end, Dove produces a wonderful coup de théâtre at the words ‘God in man’, which temporarily interrupts the flow and has all voices high and in a remote key from what has immediately preceded it—a magical effect.

from notes by Paul Spicer © 2010

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