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Jonathan Willcocks LUX PERPETUA

Lux Perpetua (Peace and Unity) 1 Requiem Aeternam 2 An Army Marches into War 3 Light Looked Down 4 At Dawn the Ridge Emerges 5 Lord, Make me an Instrument 6 Et Lux Perpetua, Luceat Eis Priory records Gloria 7 Gloria 8 Domine Deus 9 Quoniam

10 Ring Ye The Bels

English Cathedral Singers Southern Pro Musica Jane Watts (Organ) Conducted by Jonathan Willcocks

Recorded 20/21 February 2001 in All Saints Church, Tooting. Priory Records PRCD 770 [60'54"]

A slightly unusual departure from Priory Records' usual fare of organ recitals and English Cathedral Music the works recorded on this disc are recent works by the English composer Jonathan Willcocks, recorded by his own choir and orchestra, under the composer's direction. There is much excellent singing and playing on this well recorded disc. Balance between orchestra and choir is excellent and the commitment of the singers is admirable, even though they sound rather too few in number for the bigger movements of the Gloria.

As an example of the style of modern English music that actually gets performed, these works are interesting. Whether posterity will take a lot of notice of them is possibly more debatable. Willcocks' skill in the manipulation of vocal lines and orchestral colour is admirable, but the over-riding impression is that the music sounds like a kaleidoscope of other composers, but the voice of Jonathan Willcocks is rather hard to locate. Herein there are bits of Britten, Brahms, Orff and a fair chunk of the accent of Walton, especially in the Gloria. It is invidious to make comparisons of such a sweeping generality, but one hears these works as being "Rutter for intellectuals." This is a slightly unkind comment but the essentially pastiche character of the compositions does not give much else to notice.

The most interesting work is "Ring Ye The Bels" on texts of Edmund Spencer. The writing for the small orchestra still betrays a large debt to the English pastoralists of the 20th century, but the vocal writing has a sparseness and colour in the slow sections that is appealing, and the fast sections seem somehow less self-concious.

In general, this disc has much of interest to display. While much of the composition could be said to be further from the cutting edge of contemporary than would be truly challenging to the listener, the accessibility of the musical idiom does also lend a listenability that should make this disc appealing to anybody wanting a sample of the current trends of English choral music.

Peter Wells

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