Mark Elder / Hallé Youth Choir / Manchester Grammar School Choir / Jamie Phillips / Hallé Orchestra

Tarik O'Regan: A Celestial Map of the Sky

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Tarik O'Regan, of North African and Irish background, has emerged as one of Britain's most popular composers in the early 21st century. With an oeuvre that has broadened from choral music to orchestral pieces and other genres, he falls generally into the neo-tonal, British choral school, but brings to it some unique influences. Among these are rock, Renaissance and Baroque music, minimalism, and Algerian music, the latter heard in both Räi and Chaâbi in completely different ways. Bach comes to the fore in Latent Manifest, while the final track offers excerpts from O'Regan's successful opera Heart of Darkness, based on Joseph Conrad's novel. O'Regan's greatest strength perhaps remains in vocal music, and you might sample the title track, inspired by paintings of Albrecht Dürer and by the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins and Walt Whitman. It's a compact but dense chorus-and-orchestra piece that doesn't sound anything like the works of the other members of the new English cathedral school; it has an appealing roughness and enthusiasm. This is a good sampling that shows the range of O'Regan's work; performed by the venerable Hallé Orchestra, which composed some of the music, these would seem pieces that are soon to enter a great many orchestral and choral repertories. Highly recommended.

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