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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67615
Recording details: March 2000
Exeter College Chapel, Oxford, United Kingdom
Produced by Nick Flower
Engineered by Mike Skeet
Release date: January 2007
Total duration: 2 minutes 34 seconds

'Nicholas Maw comes out of that excellent group of British composers born in the 30s. Congratulations to Hyperion for producing this CD, which is not attached to an anniversary, simply because it is a superb example of choral writing performed by a first-class choir. Maw's striking miniatures include the Three Hymns, Five Epigrams, Five Carol Settings, Five Irish Songs and One Foot in Eden still, I stand. The composer illuminates a text from within with wit and charm and total understanding, the occasional accompaniment adding another dimension to the overall sound. Schola Cantorum of Oxford gives an excellent performance and is obviously enjoying every minute. A totally enjoyable experience' (Choir & Organ)

'Schola Cantorum, Oxford's premier mixed choir, connects deeply with Maw's Romanticism, and gives a rich, sound-driven account … more Maw, say I' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This new CD release from Hyperion Records will bring Maw to the attention of a wider audience by virtue of its excellent recording quality and beautiful peformances by the Schola Cantorum of Oxford' (Lifestyle Magazine)

'British composer Nicholas Maw (b1935) is a master of this idiom, especially impressive in the five 'carols' that mark the middle of this exceptional program. The Angel Gabriel has been set countless times, but Maw's is a truly original version that retains the essence of the melody while adding a new harmonic and properly ethereal/atmospheric dimension to this well-loved Christmas song. The title work, One foot in Eden still, I stand … is an extended composition for a cappella choir that sticks to tonal, text-driven choral writing techniques that respect the dramatic elements of the poem while honoring the importance of pure, idiomatic vocal expression and unique sound quality. The Schola Cantorum of Oxford under Mark Shepherd's solid direction makes the best imaginable advocate for this music, delivering impeccably polished, full-bodied performances recorded in vibrant, carefully balanced sound. Highly recommended for fans of modern choral music!' (ClassicsToday.com)

'Maw's lyrical reflective style suits the choral medium well … the first piece, 'Morning Hymn' certainly raises its hat to Maw's teacher Lennox Berkeley, the second 'Pastoral Hymn' even to composers like Finzi and Vaughan Williams, and all three are thoroughly effective, touching, and really deserve a regular place in the repertoire. The choir responds to the ‘Hymns’ with enthusiasm and confidence, as it does to the set of five Christmas carols that range from the austere two-part 'Our Lady's Song' and an imaginative setting of the well-known 'The Angel Gabriel', in which Maw surrounds the original tune with leaping, ecstatic dancing lines, to the soothing 'Swete jesu' written for King's College, Cambridge in 1992 … if this release encourages people to examine the choral work of one of England’s finest composers then that is all to the good' (ClassicalSource.com)

'Maw's choral music … expects and rewards singing of the quality which this fine Oxford choir is able to provide. Fine tuning and they relish the subtle harmonies which pervade. All the words are in English, worth reading on their own, and enhanced by Maw's treatments. The booklet is a model of its kind, texts complete and in strong black on white for a change! All the singers named, as they deserve to be. I've played this CD through twice and will come back to it again' (MusicalPointers.co.uk)

Our Lady's song
First line:
Jesu, swete sone dere!
composer
1961
author of text
circa 1375

Introduction
Our Lady’s song (1961) was commissioned for the Novello carol collection Sing Nowell and also appeared as the musical supplement of the September edition of The Musical Times in 1962. The Elizabethan Singers, conducted by Louis Halsey, gave the premiere on 26 October the same year at St Clement Danes. Maw was drawn to set medieval texts for his carols, because ‘I have always been interested in such old poems as I thought they were very genuine expressions of religious feeling of that time’. In this anonymous fourteenth-century poem, the Virgin’s lament to the baby Christ that he has been born merely in a lowly stable, amidst animals, and without clothes to be wrapped in, is set starkly throughout in two parts that at times imitate each other.

from notes by Andrew Burn 2007

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