ORA / Suzi Digby

Many Are the Wonders

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The British choir ORA and its director Suzi Digby have earned both positive critical reception and commercial success with albums combining Renaissance works with new commissions. This makes sense due to the unbroken quality of the English choral tradition, but ORA delves more deeply into the phenomenon with new works by composers who have specifically addressed the influence of Renaissance composers and works. ORA began with Byrd, and here the choir takes up the music of Thomas Tallis. Each of the seven new works here -- by Steven Stucky (whose work was not commissioned anew, but was included in memoriam), Frank Ferko, Richard Allain, Ken Burton, Harry Escott, Kerry Andrew, and Bob Chilcott -- approaches its task in a different way, lending the program as a whole cumulative interest. Sample a pair of works for the full effect: Tallis' Videte miraculum and the fascinating setting of the same text by Richard Allain, explicating Tallis' sometimes dissonant counterpoint as chains of suspensions. Both Tallis' dense Latin polyphony and his limpid English works are included. ORA, a mixed-gender choir of 20, avoids the English cathedral style in favor of a more forceful, text-centered approach to the music that works well in this context, and they're ably backed by Harmonia Mundi's engineers, working at London's All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak (misspelled in the booklet, and not the one delightfully known as All Hallows Barking). If you think you've heard every possibility in recording the choral music of the English Renaissance, get to know ORA through this release.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Archbishop Parker's Psalter
1 01:01 Amazon
2 00:54 Amazon
3 03:24 Amazon
Three New Motets 'In Memoriam Thomas Tallis'
4 03:03 Amazon
5 01:56 Amazon
6 02:36 Amazon
Archbishop Parker's Psalter
7 00:58 Amazon
8 01:09 Amazon
9 09:52 Amazon
10 10:35 Amazon
11 04:00 Amazon
12 04:43 Amazon
Archbishop Parker's Psalter
13 01:00 Amazon
14 01:16 Amazon
15 01:56 Amazon
16 02:29 Amazon
17 02:02 Amazon
18 03:02 Amazon
Archbishop Parker's Psalter
19 00:46 Amazon
20 01:12 Amazon
21 04:19 Amazon
Archbishop Parker's Psalter
22 00:37 Amazon
23 02:32 Amazon
Archbishop Parker's Psalter
24 04:51 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick