Standing at the centre of this musical rose garden is Britten’s masterful setting of a poem by Gerald Manley Hopkins. Drawn from the 1939 cycle AMDG , Rosa Mystica tests the mettle of any choir, with its rapid-fire ostinato around which dance sinuous harmonies. Only excellent diction, pitch and ensemble can bring the piece alive. In these qualities, the chamber choir of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is not lacking.

Paul Spicer, well known for his work the Finzi Singers, has brought together a colourful program of Marian works, not only showing historical and international breadth but stylistic diversity. Whether it is the polyphonic intricacies of Ludford’s Ave cujus conceptio or the romantic simplicity of Bruckner’s Ave Maria , the singers clothe the music with both clarity and warmth. Pierre Villette’s luscious Hymne à la...

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