This music by British composer Bob Chilcott is of the sort meant to be accessible to ordinary church and community choirs. As such, it's a great success and can be heartily recommended to choir directors in the U.S., where Chilcott is less well known than John Rutter. The program on this German release (with performances by combined Nordic and pan-European choirs) is divided in half, although there's not a specific indication of that division. The first half consists of secular music, and it's absolutely delightful: completely accessible, yet totally original in conception. The highlight is The Making of the Drum, a five-movement work with texts by Barbadian-British poet Kamau Brathwaite describing aspects of drum construction and music that embodies the resulting drum noise. It sounds cornball, but the idea is executed in such a lively way that it's hard to imagine any choir or its audience emerging unsatisfied. In the same vein is The Runner, an excerpt from a larger work called The Modern Man I Sing: the choir opens with puffing sounds. The opening Songs and Cries of London Town is an inventive take on Britain's long tradition of musical street cries, realized with an admirable economy and lightness. The inclusion of a setting of William Wordsworth's poem "Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802," is a neat stroke in the urban portrait, but the lack of texts in the booklet is a handicap; the mostly non-anglophone singers are not consistently intelligible (although listeners will get enough to form a general idea of what's being sung). The sacred pieces on the second half of the program, three of them in Latin, are closer to Rutter style, less original although attractive and pleasant throughout. The strongest is My Prayer, somewhere between an adaptation of and a fantasia upon Purcell's anthem Hear My Prayer. The booklet lacks descriptions of some of the pieces and is generally not very informative, but the music on the disc will be a real find for those unfamiliar with Chilcott's music.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Songs and Cries of London Town, for chorus, 2 pianos & percussion (optional)|
|The Making of the Drum, cantata for chorus & percussion|
|The Modern Man I Sing, for chorus|
|Canticles of Light, 3 hymns for chorus & orchestra (or organ with tubular bells)|