Choir of Queen's College, Oxford / Owen Rees

A New Heaven

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The Choir of the Queen's College, Oxford, has emerged in the top rank of England's mixed-gender collegiate choirs with a distinctive rounded style, full of sentiment, in the women's voices. Here they pair it with a novel program for an album that will be a winner among choral music enthusiasts. The title comes from Edgar Bainton's And I saw a new heaven, a motet setting text from the Book of Revelations. This lovely work, composed in 1928, is the earliest work on the program, which extends forward in time to music by composers in their twenties when the album appeared in 2017. The overall idea is strong: an examination of the new British choral repertory from its roots in the middle 20th century, to its giants like John Rutter and, more lately, James MacMillan, to the youthful figures who show where the music may be going. These are especially intriguing. Sample Et vidi angelum of Marco Galvani, who was born in 1994. With its structure built on parallel harmonies, it fits with the overall moderate-tempo, tonal language of the album as a whole, but suggests something apart from the general atmosphere of nostalgia that surrounds that language. With a unique mixture of classics and new material, and strong engineering in a pair of Oxford venues, this is a good pick for lovers of the English choral repertory and sound.

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