Owain Park has not only accompanied and sung in the choir of Trinity College, Cambridge under Stephen Layton, but has been able to compose for such an accomplished ensemble, along with many of Britain’s top choirs. Such opportunities have led Park to write works of extraordinary virtuosity. As his teacher, John Rutter, observes in the booklet: you’re not going to hear this sort of music in your average parish church.
Park’s deep familiarity with the choral repertory finds wonderfully wide and unique expression in this disc. Upheld by stillness recalls Byrd, while The Lord’s Prayer pays homage to Sheppard and Ave Maris Stella is perfumed by Grieg and Poulenc. Some of the music, like the striking Judas Mercator Pessimus and the empathetic setting of Binyon’s We Will Remember Them, derives considerable effect from contrasting textural complexity with simplicity. In the Trinity Fauxbourdons, elaborating a single chant line yields atmospheric results with the use of wordless chords and plush harmonies. (Sample the particularly evocative Nunc Dimittis.)
The kaleidoscopic program reveals a composer with boundless imagination and great sensitivity to a huge variety of texts, from the Scriptures to Kathleen Raine and Rowan Williams. All is sung with enormous energy and commitment, sympathetically captured by the Hyperion engineering. Lovers of choral music should not hesitate to add this captivating recording to their collection.