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Track(s) taken from CDA67615

Balulalow

First line:
O my deir heart, young Jesus sweit
composer
1964
author of text
published in this translation in Ane Compendious Buik of Godly and Spirituall Sangis by James, John and Robert Wedderburn in 1567

Schola Cantorum of Oxford, Mark Shepherd (conductor)
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 20 seconds
 
1

Reviews

'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)
Balulalow (1964) was commissioned for the Oxford University Press anthology Carols of Today (to which several of Maw’s contemporaries also contributed, including Peter Maxwell Davies, Gordon Crosse and William Mathias). The words are from Ane Sang of the birth of Christ, a poem from Ane Compendious Buik of Godly and Spirituall Sangis (1567), by the brothers James, John and Robert Wedderburn. This poem itself was a translation of the Christmas Eve carol ‘Von Himmel Hoch’ written by Martin Luther for his son Hans, first published in his Geistliche Lieder (1535). Maw sets the words as a lilting lullaby and employs his familiar device of creating a choral texture around the main melody. The title itself ‘Balulalow’ provides the decorative opportunity, which, at the close is set to a luminous cadence.

from notes by Andrew Burn 2007

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