Clas­si­cal

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Vin­cent Plush

Mass of the Dream­ing Bris­bane Cham­ber Choir Tall Pop­pies At first hear­ing, the 10 pieces on this al­bum, billed as “the first record­ing of Aus­tralian sa­cred cho­ral mu­sic to be recorded by an Aus­tralian choir”, sound re­mark­ably sim­i­lar. It’s the sort of glo­ri­ous sound we have come to ex­pect from the English cathe­dral tra­di­tion: mel­liflu­ous, serene, glow­ing, ru­mi­na­tive and restora­tive. It’s also the sig­na­ture sound of this im­pres­sive choir, an­other jewel in Bris­bane’s lus­trous cho­ral crown. They sing in the rich res­o­nance of St John’s Cathe­dral, where con­duc­tor Graeme Mor­ton has been di­rec­tor of mu­sic for many years. This record­ing cap­tures the re­ver­ber­ant glow of the cathe­dral and the texts, mostly Latin and litur­gi­cal in ori­gin. Much of the mu­sic was com­mis­sioned by the choir, in­clud­ing the Mass of the Dream­ing (2009) by Ross Ed­wards. More con­tem­pla­tion than celebration, the com­poser ad­mits, this is a heart­felt and deeply mov­ing work that de­serves to be taken up by choirs the world over. Sur­pris­ingly, the most ad­vanced­sound­ing work on the al­bum is also the old­est, the Ex­ul­tate Dominum (1961) by the 26-year-old Nigel But­ter­ley, its Stravin­skian throb­bing de­liv­ered in per­fect rhyth­mic uni­son by the 20 young cho­ris­ters. Pairs of litur­gi­cal set­tings by An­drew Schultz and Stephen Leek call for novel touches, in­clud­ing Ti­betan over­tone singing. The works of younger com­posers Joseph Twist and Keren Terp­stra in­di­cate tal­ents still in progress, whereas short pieces by Paul Stan­hope and Matthew Orlovich are deeply sat­is­fy­ing in their orig­i­nal­ity as well as their func­tion­al­ity. This is a record­ing that re­wards re­peated lis­ten­ing. You don’t need to be a be­liever in a supreme be­ing. It’s enough to be­lieve in the ex­tra­or­di­nary power of mu­sic to calm and pu­rify the mind.

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