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Track(s) taken from CDA67976

Now I have known, O Lord

September to October 2004; Brockley; SATB divisi; commissioned by Jeremy Backhouse for the silver jubilee of the Vasari Singers and first performed by them at St John's, Smith Square, on 15 May 2005
author of text
translator of text

The State Choir Latvija, Māris Sirmais (conductor)
Recording details: March 2010
St John's Church, Riga, Latvia
Produced by Normunds Slava
Engineered by Aivars Stengelis & Normunds Slava
Release date: January 2013
Total duration: 7 minutes 11 seconds

Cover artwork: Moonlight Departure (1998) by Richard Crichton (b1935)
Private Collection / Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Australia / Bridgeman Art Library, London

Other recordings available for download

Vasari Singers, Jeremy Backhouse (conductor)


'Unquestionably the State Choir Latvia is a magnificent body of singers. They encompass a vast dynamic range and deliver words and music with impeccable precision and clarity … they thrill with their rhythmically compelling opening unisons, entice with their delicate chording … and soothe with their lilting harmonic underlay' (Gramophone)

'In The Voice of the Bard, which opens this Gabriel Jackson collection, the State Choir Latvija manages both a bristling ardour in its delivery of the text and a virtuoso response to the vocal demands of the setting … Jackson's long, soothingly lyrical arcs of melody are sensually shaped and executed with impressive corporate unanimity … an incandescent performance of the 40-part motet Sanctum est verum lumen sets the seal on this magnificent demonstration of the art of choral singing' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This disc is, quite simply, full of marvels … any listener will surely react with awe to the sheer splendour and choral daring, both from the composer and from the fabulous choir' (International Record Review)

'All the music is full of interest and is written with what we’ve come to expect from this composer; namely a highly imaginative ear for choral texture, great empathy for the human voice and tremendous responsiveness to texts. It’s hard—nay, impossible—to imagine these pieces receiving finer advocacy than they receive from the superb Latvian choir, who give one of the most memorable exhibitions of unaccompanied choral singing that I’ve heard for some time. If you factor in also that the recorded sound is splendid and the documentation up to Hyperion’s usual excellent standards then this disc can only be regarded as a pretty compelling proposition' (MusicWeb International)
To mark the silver jubilee of his Vasari Singers in 2004, Jeremy Backhouse commissioned ten composers each, as he put it, ‘to write an anthem that might reflect the state of our world at the start of the new millennium’. Backhouse invited Gabriel Jackson to set a sacred but non-liturgical text. The composer chose Arthur John Arberry’s translation of verse by the tenth-century Sufi mystic Al-Junaid of Baghdad, searing in its blend of sensual and spiritual imagery. Now I have known, O Lord arises from the composer’s knowledge of the textural transparency, timbral refinement and expressive fervour of the Vasari Singers. The anthem makes a cardinal virtue of stillness, at first unfolding the essence of a ravishing melody for divided sopranos above slow-moving, almost static harmonies. Gentle choral murmurings, formed from multiple repetitions of melodic cells, underpin the erotic intimacy of paired soprano and tenor solos, to the words ‘My tongue hath talked with my Adored’; the effect is recalled, albeit with choral parts transposed and the solos assigned to alto and bass, to express ‘Yet otherwise disunion is our estate eternally’. Jackson frames the work’s florid climax with a chorale for double choir and a sublime chordal postlude.

from notes by Andrew Stewart © 2013

Other albums featuring this work

Anthems for the 21st century
SIGCD059Download only
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