Al­lain

BBC Music Magazine - - Choral & Song -

Videte mirac­u­lum; The Nor­wich Ser­vice; Cana’s Guest; The Magi’s Gifts; The Beloved, etc

Choir of Mer­ton Col­lege, Ox­ford/ Ben­jamin Ni­cholas;

Alexan­der Lit­tle (or­gan)

Del­phian DCD 34207 64:08 mins Richard Al­lain (b1965) is ad­mired for his cho­ral mu­sic, much of it for church or cathe­dral. Work­ing in a broadly tra­di­tional style, he ex­plores a har­monic world of blurred but eu­pho­nious rich­ness, the writ­ing skilled and un­fail­ingly ef­fec­tive. The big­gest piece here, Videte mirac­u­lum, pays homage to Thomas Tallis and in par­tic­u­lar to his motet of the same name: its noble struc­ture is in no way dis­coun­te­nanced by com­par­i­son with the orig­i­nal.

The an­tiphon O Day-spring makes telling use of a so­prano sax­o­phone (played by Finn Mce­wan). Equally ef­fec­tive are the solo in­ter­ven­tions by so­prano (Francesca Miller) and bass (Pa­trick Keefe) in the Nunc dimit­tis from the at­mo­spheric Nor­wich Ser­vice – one of Al­lain’s most vividly imag­i­na­tive pieces.

The short Cana’s Guest re­veals a sure sense of nat­u­ral har­monic growth, while fa­mil­iar texts – A Prayer of St Richard of Chich­ester and God be in my head – find new life in Al­lain’s fresh-minted set­tings. These beau­ti­fully shaped per­for­mances by a finely con­sti­tuted and fear­less mixed choir, of­fer a con­vinc­ing ar­ray of colour, tex­ture and dy­nam­ics. The sound is rich and full, al­lowed to breathe in an ideal acous­tic.

Ge­orge Hall

PER­FOR­MANCE

RECORD­ING

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