The ostensible goal of this Naxos release is clearly stated in its subtitle: "Celebrating a century of British women's right to vote." That milestone was somewhat lost in the flood of releases marking the end of World War I, but it is ably marked here. The music dates as far back as 1937 from the pen of Rebecca Clarke, but is mostly contemporary, and it features the fine British choir Blossom Street under its director Hilary Campbell, a cappella or with accompaniment, and here all-female. Annotator Katy Hamilton divides them into three groups: those born near the turn of the last century, those born in the middle of the 20th century, and those born in the '70s and '80s. Ten of the 14 pieces here are receiving their world premieres, and the program collectively suggests a continuity of female creativity. Composer Stef Conner in O splendidissima gemma takes off from Paul Hillier's collaboration with jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek in the '80s; here a clarinet is used in an evocation of Hildegard von Bingen. One of the few non-premieres is Roxanna Panufnik's rhythmically inventive The Sweet Spring, setting a text by Thomas Nash. Among the composers rarely heard is Imogen Holst, daughter of Gustav. The album takes its title from a work by Elizabeth Maconchy, setting an anonymous medieval text, and placed at the end. Blossom Street is involved with the texts, making them clear and often sounding gorgeous. A fine release that goes beyond its stated goal and reflects a bit on the nature of music by women.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim