Harvey Brough / Andrew Parrott

Harvey Brough: Requiem in Blue

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British musician Harvey Brough -- a tenor specializing in early music, a pop album producer, a jazz and rock guitarist, a world music performer -- is also a composer whose music draws unabashedly on his diverse experiences. Requiem in Blue, written in 1998 in memory of his brother, uses nine Latin texts from the traditional requiem (omitting the Dies Irae), but intersperses them with folk songs and with his settings of contemporary poetry. It is scored for choir, children's chorus, an ensemble made up of a mix of classical, jazz, and world instruments, and a number of vocal soloists from various traditions. Given the wide spread of its disparate elements, it's perhaps surprising that Brough is able to pull them together so convincingly. Some sections are fully integrated, and in others, the different styles are dramatically juxtaposed, but the effect of the whole is never less than compelling. The piece flows organically within each movement, and from movement to movement without coming across as a pastiche, and its cumulative impact is powerfully moving. Valete in Pace, a setting of traditional Latin texts related to the monastic hours as well as a contemporary libretto by Lee Hall, is scored for more traditional forces -- soloists, choir, childrens' choir, and orchestra -- but it's no less skillfully executed or effective. The vast array of performers, including the Choir of Clare College Cambridge, Portsmouth Cathedral Choir, and the Britten Sinfonia, are all top-notch. They are utterly invested in the music and their enthusiasm comes across unambiguously. The sound is clean and present.

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