Album Review

Posted: Friday 11th November 2005
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Anthems for the 21st Century – American Record Guide

A choral concert cum silver anniversary party as the Vasaris, a British choir of 30, celebrate their 25th year of artistic life with 12 world premiere recordings, nine of them commissioned especially for the occasion. The works are sacred, all designed for use at Evensong. Choral artistry, it comes as no surprise, is exceptional – this has always been a first-class outfit – and there’s new music worth hearing as well. Jonathan Dove’s ‘Bless the Lord’, with its organ fanfares creating some brilliant flashes of light, is a winner, as are Jonathan Rathbone’s achingly sad ‘Absalom’ and James MacMillan’s absorbing take on the emotional implications of the Annunciation. MacMillan really gives the singers a chance to shine. Listen to how they dig into the haunting text from Michael Symmons Roberts’s ‘Her Maker’s Maker’. Will Todd’s wordless ‘Angel Song’ offers moments of quiet ecstasy, while Ward Swingle’s graceful ‘Give us This Day’ acts as a final blessing on the whole endeavour. Yes, there are some snoozers interspersed with the rest, but nothing’s that bad, and the Vasaris are always worth a listen. For choral aficionados, this might be a nice opportunity to check out some new repertoire.

American Record Guide