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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: 3 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)

In beauty may I walk
composer
1998; composed as a present for Anthony Whitworth Jones on his leaving Glyndebourne Festival Opera
author of text
American Navajo Indian text
translator of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In beauty may I walk was composed as a leaving present for Anthony Whitworth Jones, a great supporter of Dove’s who commissioned him to compose numerous works for the Glyndebourne Festival including the opera Flight, on his departure from Glyndebourne in August 1998. This is a short and simple setting of anonymous words from the Navajo translated by the American poet Jerome K Rothenberg, who made a remarkable job of the almost untranslatable. The Navajo is a huge tribe of North American Indians whose reservation (mostly in Arizona) is the largest in the United States. The Navajos have never stopped speaking their native Athabaskan language which is spoken only on the Navajo reservation. Until recently it was an unwritten language. It has no alphabet or symbols and is purely reflective of their way of life. Although the language is complex for outsiders to understand the imagery can be simple and fresh as Rothenberg’s translation shows. Dove’s response is equally simple and uses a chant-like phrase which the basses sing at the start as an endlessly repeated figure which seems to reflect both primitivism and a kind of religious fervour. A second section marked ‘more alert’ and to be sung in a ‘bird-like’ manner has the upper voices pecking at the words ‘Beautifully joyful’. The tenors and basses join and longer-note phrases bring back a feel of the chant which is properly reintroduced in the final section. This builds to a big climax and a quiet ending.

from notes by Paul Spicer © 2010

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