religious music


Harry BrammaHarry Bramma was born in Bradford in 1936 and at an early age began a lifelong enthusiasm for church music. After education at Bradford Grammar School and Pembroke College, Oxford, graduating in theology and music he took his Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists in 1958 winning the Harding prize. After several church appointments he was discovered by Christopher Robinson whilst at Worcester Cathedral and joined him there as assistant in 1963. He spent 12 years in Worcester before coming Director of Music at Southwark Cathedral in 1976 and stayed for 13 years. In 1989 he succeeded Dr Lionel Dakers as Director of the RSCM. He retired to Salisbury in 1998 where he finds time for composing, always with practical liturgy in mind. His considerable contribution to church music in the UK is celebrated with this recording of his inventive, beautifully crafted and approachable music, sung by the superb professional choir of All Saints, Margaret Street (directed by Paul Brough) accompanied by organist Henry Parkes.


Passion and ResurrectionThe outstanding young Latvian composer Eriks Ešenvalds’ Passion and Resurrection is a mesmerising 30-minute work for soprano, mixed choir and small orchestra in four movements. Eschewing the single narrative perspective that characterizes the great Passion settings of the past, the composer has assembled an interlocking mosaic of texts from the gospels, from Byzantine and Roman liturgies, and from the Old Testament to tell the Holy Week story from the viewpoint of Mary Magdalene - a soaring soprano role that is dazzlingly sung here by Carolyn Sampson. Founded thirty years ago by director Harry Christophers, the Polyhony ensemble is famous for performances of early English music and great works of the Renaissance as well as a diversity of twentieth century music. Conductor Stephen Laytons commitment and deep understanding of new Baltic music are reflected in performances here of integrity, passion and radiant beauty by Polyphony and the Britten Sinfonia. The main work is a thrilling, intense expression of rapt spirituality reminiscent of Arvo Pärt, John Tavener and James Macmillan, and the CD also features five shorter, purely choral pieces on spiritual themes. The exquisite Evening was inspired by an American poem by Sara Teasdale. Night Prayer is an extended nocturne, a prayer for the goddess of the night. A drop in the Ocean commemorates the life of Mother Theresa, and Legend of the walled-in woman memorialises another Albanian woman, who was said to have been sacrificed to ward off invaders. Long Road is a beautiful setting of a love poem reflecting on loss. ‘Passion and Resurrection is surely set to become a classic.’ - On an Overgrown Path.

[new classics]