A Rose Magnificat
Music by Tallis, Warlock, MacMillan et al
Gabrieli Consort, Paul McCreesh
Signum SIGCD536

Paul McCreesh’s sublime choral disc comes up fresh as a daisy and as colourful as a stained-glass window

“The idea of building a program around pieces that illuminate each other is interesting, But it does take an awful lot of time and you do drive yourself absolutely bloody crazy getting to where you want to get.” Paul McCreesh

The latest recording from Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort is not one of their customary blockbusters. There is still plenty of impressive music, but the grandeur is generated through top-notch a cappella singing rather than a cast of thousands. This bouquet of Marian music by English composers has blooms plucked from the Tudor period interspersed with offerings from this century and last.

Kenneth Leighton’s rarely heard Of a Rose Is All My Song launches proceedings, exploring the traditional metaphor of the Virgin Mary as a rose, a vivid contrast with the ordered Gothic arches of Tallis’s Videte Miraculum, delivered with a generous but controlled blend.

Similar contrasts mark the next musical doublet: Peter Warlock’s As Dew in Aprylle and Robert White’s Magnificat. John Sheppard’s Ave Maris Stella is surrounded by two contemporary settings of the same text; one by James MacMillan and the other by Owain Park. Robert Wylkynson’s monumental nine-part Salve Regina is given an appropriately muscular performance. Harmonic colour is also richly realised in Howells’ Salve Regina in which the singers run the full gamut of emotions.

Aptly described as having a “postmodern simplicity,” Jonathan Lane’s There Is No Rose provides the perfect foil to the final, title track by Matthew Martin in which the composer embeds the text of There is no rose within the Magnificat. The Gabrieli Consort rises to the work’s complex challenges, producing a compelling performance that powerfully communicates both texts. Tony Way

Read our review

Read our interview with Paul McCreesh

Limelight‘s Recording of the Year 2018

The Runners-up…

Sibelius
Orchestral Songs et al
Anne Sofie von Otter, Hannu Lintu
Ondine  ODE12895

Stravinsky
Perséphone
Finnish National Opera, Salonen
Pentatone PTC5186688

Tallis
Songs of Reformation
Alamire, David Skinner
Obsidian CD716

The Dufay Spectacle
Music by Dufay et al
Gothic Voices
Linn  CKD568

Limelight, Australia's Classical Music and Arts Magazine