Album Review

Posted: Thursday 11th August 2005
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Anthems for the 21st Century – Muso Magazine

Vasari Singers are one of the most critically acclaimed chamber choirs in the UK. Led by the charasmatic Jeremy Backhouse, the choir has performed in most of London’s major concert venues and recorded everything from Lotti to Swingle, picking up Gramophone nominations and much audience appreciation along the way. The group’s latest project is 10 new commissioned works from the likes of Gabriel Jackson, Will Todd, Stephen Barlow and Jeremy Filsell, which received their premiere in May at St John’s, Smith Square. The brief stated that each work should be suitable as an anthem in an Anglican cathedral evensong and should reflect the 21st century.

Nine of the commissions appear on this lovely disc from Signum Classics, recorded at Tonbridge School Chapel, along with three additional pieces by Jonathan Dove, James MacMillan and Jonathan Rathbone.Each piece is pleasingly different -from the vibrant organ and exultant voices of Dove’s Bless the Lord, O My Soul to the stunningly eerie atmosphere of Angel Song II by Will Todd. Most of the pieces are either accompanied by Jeremy Filsell on organ, or a capella, leaving room for the listener to wallow in the gorgeousness of an assembly of luxurious voices. The soloists are top quality and the choir’s collected sensitivity, coherence and dramatic sensibility makes up for anything it occasionally lacks tonally. If you have any doubts about the 21st Century’s ability to produce anything of aesthetic worth, play this disc. 

Hazel Davis
Muso Magazine