The music of Bernard Hughes is a bit less commonly encountered than that of other members of the English choral school, but it is quite appealing. The a cappella pieces here are quite short, many shorter than three minutes, and they are tonal in orientation. The texts mix classic and contemporary English poetry with sacred passages. The music is straightforward but not obvious; the text-setting is sensitive, and there are unexpected harmonic moves such as bitonal passages that resolve into a new thought in the text. The strongest feature here, although perhaps the hardest to define, is that the music seems ideally matched to the talents of the Epiphoni Consort, a group established to fill a space between the world of amateur and professional choirs in London. The choir's talents come close to the professional end of the dichotomy, and it has been quick to find recording opportunities. However, it is clear hearing this music that this is not a professional group; the choristers respond to the directness of the text in a way that bespeaks their origins outside the professional musical world. There is a real X factor here that makes this one of the most satisfying choral releases of 2022, and it was no surprise to see it climb onto best-seller charts in the spring of that year.
Precious Things: Choral Music by Bernard Hughes Review
by James Manheim