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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 28 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)

Run, shepherds, run!
composer
2001; commissioned by the Spitalfields Festival in memory of Christopher Robert Vaughan
author of text
The Angel's Song, from the collection Flowers of Sion

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Run, shepherds, run! underlines Dove’s preoccupation with and feel for drama and the dramatic. This was a Spitalfields Festival commission, celebrating the life of Christopher Robert Vaughan, who died in his late thirties. Vaughan was a local resident in Spitalfields and Patron of the Festival who left part of his estate to funding the Festival’s ‘Learning and Participation’ programme. (This was not the only work commissioned from Jonathan Dove in memory of Vaughan as he was also asked to write a community cantata On Spital Fields to celebrate Vaughan’s life.) The poem—‘The Angel’s Song’ by William Drummond of Hawthornden (1585–1649), from a collection called Flowers of Sion—is energetic and ideal for Dove’s purposes. The music was written to be performed with audience participation and they need to be taught their ‘refrain’ before the performance. In fact the music is quite complex as the audience part is divided up as the piece progresses, first into two parts and then into four parts, all of whom sing with a section of the choir. As Dove writes in his preface: ‘The four-part division presents the audience with quite a challenge: it may result in a degree of happy chaos, but this is all part of the fun.’

The main theme that runs throughout is also taken by the audience. Dove treats it in a number of different ways and, imaginatively (and helpfully), before the audience’s first entries their phrases are sung strongly by the choir, which they then imitate. The model for much of this piece is Britten’s A Boy was Born in which he has a constantly repeated energetic figure passed around the vocal parts over which is sung a binding longer-note melody (sung by the boys’ choir in Britten’s case). The result is very exciting and strongly energized.

from notes by Paul Spicer © 2010

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