As an indication of the composer's increasing popularity, Do Not Be Afraid: Choral Music of Philip Stopford is the third collection of his works on Regent, performed by an Anglican choir that has embraced his highly accessible style. Stopford's original settings of sacred texts and arrangements of traditional carols have the welcome characteristics of tunefulness, harmonic freshness, and instant memorability, so it's no surprise that Christopher Gray and the Truro Cathedral Choir give his music the enthusiasm and power found in these engaging performances. High points of the program include Stopford's gorgeous choral setting of the Lord's Prayer, a brightly ecstatic Ave Regina Coelorum, the hypnotically brooding Hope for treble voice, choir, organ, and timpani, and For the beauty of the earth, with its gently flowing lines and pure harmonies. Stopford's music often recalls the ingenuous and highly popular style of John Rutter, and there is at times the pronounced influence of pop music in Stopford's chord progressions that would make a simple, lyrical piece like A Christmas Blessing an excellent possibility for crossover artists. The recording in the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Truro, Cornwall, is clean and clear, though the acoustics give the voices a soft edge that occasionally obscures the words.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Truro Evening Canticles|