BBC Music Magazine
April 2012

'It was a crazy project involving 500 musicians, but what better way to celebrate the Polish-English direction of the Wroclaw Festival, Wratislava Cantans?' says Paul McCreesh, who, as artistic director, works alongside the dynamic general director Andrzej Kosendiak. For this stunning recording of Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts, the Wroclaw Philharmonic and Choir plus the Gabrieli Consort and Players joined forces with young Polish string players and brass players from Chethams, who mastered nineteenth-century instruments with ease: 'I'm a great believer in working with young people, and they rose to the challenge superbly, which makes this award particularly thrilling.' The recording, a military operation, was made over ten days in Wroclaw's Gothic church of St Mary Magdalene: 'As Berlioz said, the building is the instrument, and that was certainly the case here. Engineer Neil Hutchinson and producer Nick Parker got an amazing sound from a difficult piece: 30 metres separated me from the back row of the choir. We spent a lot of time reblending and balancing afterwards, trying to capture the totality. The best moment was when the full ensemble came together for the first time - the entire building was shaking, with 16 timpani playing and everyone smiling! But the crucial challenge was to find the colour and softness in the a cappella parts, and that's what pleases me most in the final result.