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Ave regina caelorum

July to August 2008; Brockley; SATB + electric guitar; commissioned by the International Guitar Foundation, The Sixteen and Kings Place, and first performed to celebrate the opening of Kings Place, London, in 2008
author of text
Antiphon to the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the Feast of the Purification until the Wednesday in Holy Week
author of text

A medieval prayer, Christina Rossetti’s verse for the Feast of the Annunciation, the resourceful sounds of electric guitar, and choral polyphony of unbridled virtuosity coalesce with remarkable integrity in Ave regina caelorum. There is no sense here of bright creative ideas being forced to conform to the limits of a narrow Procrustean bed; rather, Jackson’s composition celebrates the distinctive qualities of his chosen solo instrument and develops them in a felicitous partnership with contrasting vocal textures and timbres. Shades of Ernie Isley and Eric Clapton sweep over the guitar’s solo outbreaks, together with the twangy sounds of a ‘chicken scratch’ dance riff (as accompaniment to the choir’s ‘Ave domina angelorum’), erotic note bends and seductive glissandos. As so often in his work, Jackson establishes intimacy through the simplicity of his melodic language while building transcendent grandeur through the ingenuity of his part-writing. Jacksonian jouissance leaps from the page with the arrival of the composition’s central ‘Gaude virgo’, the pleasure of which is ultimately spent in an ecstatic guitar cadenza and set in relief by the unaccompanied choir’s four-part close harmonization of ‘Vale, o valde decora’. Although the piece was first performed at the opening of London’s Kings Place concert hall in 2008, its natural habitat must surely be a Byzantine basilica or the fan-vaulted choir of a great cathedral.

from notes by Andrew Stewart © 2013


Jackson (G): A ship with unfurled sails & other choral works


Track 13 on CDA67976 [12'27]

Track-specific metadata for CDA67976 track 13

Recording date
19 March 2010
Recording venue
St John's Church, Riga, Latvia
Recording producer
Normunds Slava
Recording engineer
Aivars Stengelis & Normunds Slava
Hyperion usage
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