BBC Music Magazine Awards 35 BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE Choral Award Paul Mccreesh A Rose Magnificat Works by Leighton, Tallis, Warlock, White, Macmillan, Sheppard, Park, Wylkynson, Howells, Lane and Martin Gabrieli Consort/paul Mccreesh Signum SIGCD 536 Paul Mccreesh is no stranger to the BBC Music Magazine Awards. In 2014, he was at Kings Place to pick up the Choral Award for his and the Gabrieli Consort’s recording of Britten’s mighty War Requiem, a success that followed 2012’s Technical Excellence Award for their disc of Berlioz’s even vaster Grande Messe des Morts. This year’s winning recording is on an altogether smaller scale. A Rose Magnificat features just the Gabrieli choir – no instruments involved, let alone a large orchestra – in short works centred on the theme of the Virgin Mary. The composers range from Robert Wylkynson, who plied his trade in the 15th century, to Owain Park, born at the very end of the 20th. ‘I think that one thing that marks out our discs is our neurosis about programming!’ Mccreesh tells us. ‘Every single one of them goes through months, sometimes years, of discussion, and our desire is that all of them should state some sort of artistic concept within them.’ For Mccreesh, quality control applies as much to repertoire as to performance. ‘There’s a vast wealth of Marian music out there, so you have to focus quite hard on whittling it down,’ he explains, ‘but I like all of the music we work with to have a sense of rigour and discipline within the beauty of the sound. Even the Owain Park and James Macmillan pieces, which sound quite simple, have a contrapuntal element that is actually quite clever.’ The work that gives the disc its title, Matthew Martin’s ten-minute A Rose Magnificat, is also the one that shows the Gabrielis at their most agile. ‘I asked Matthew to write something for us that is both complex and challenging,’ says Mccreesh. ‘★e delivered that in spades! We had quite a lot of rehearsal time for this project, and we still used most of it on that piece. That said, Wylkynson’s Salve Regina is also a most spectacular piece of polyphony. I find it extraordinary that a work that is that old can be so complex.’ Marian miracle: the Gabrieli Consort and Paul Mccreesh
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