A group of seven carols starts this programme of Bob Chilcott's choral music. They vary widely, from the softly undulating lyricism of The Shepherds Sing with piano accompaniment, through the stabbing a cappella attack-rhythms of Nova! Nova!, to the joyfully lilting syncopations of Pilgrim Jesus.
The Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir, familiar from its participation in the Gabrieli Consort's outstanding recordings of Mendelssohn's Elijah and Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts, emerges extremely positively from this opening sequence. Freshness of timbre, individuality in the four voice-sections and genuine versatility of interpretive approach are major characteristics. It clearly helps to have the composer, formerly a chorister of distinction, at the tiller: the performances sound absolutely secure in intent and unfussily authoritative.
Other highlights include Simple Pictures of Tomorrow, an Eluard setting containing the most emotionally probing music in the programme, and Furusato, a charming set of five arrangements of Japanese folk songs, which sits neatly alongside Chilcott's own comfortably tonal, listener-friendly idiom. The recorded sound is excellent, and Chilcott himself provides the notes on the music.