The choral music of Peter Warlock (Philip Heseltine) is much less well known than his songs, which is odd in that it is stylistically consistent with them. Perhaps the rather strange religious content of some of them, coming from a self-professed atheist with all the occult inclinations suggested by his pseudonym, was a stumbling block, but perhaps the time is ripe for a rediscovery. In any event, there are some wonderful short pieces here, and the young English choir the Carice Singers, named for Edward Elgar's daughter of all people, showcases them to best effect. Influences include Warlock's prime mover Delius, late Renaissance choral music, including Carlo Gesualdo, and the chromatic harmonists of the early 20th century, who may be present to a greater or lesser degree. There are a few clinkers, as Warlock himself acknowledged, but many of these songs are compact masterpieces with unique, piquant flavors. The selection of texts (which ought to have been included in the booklet despite the singers' clear diction) reflects Warlock's idiosyncratic preferences. Novelties include a song in the Cornish language (track 21) and the partly wordless Corpus Christi (track 13), but really all of the music is a novelty; Warlock was a composer of his time, but he does not fit into Impressionism, Pastoralism, atonal music, or any other box. A beautifully performed find for Warlock fans.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
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