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Johan Duijck
El Camino del Alma; the Way of the Soul

1 Alma de la Música, op.16 (1996) for Soprano solo, Choir and Orchestra
2 Cantar del Alma, op.24 (2004) 19:53 for Contralto solo, Choir and Piano
3 Alma, búscate en Mí, op.25 (2005) for mixed Choir and Organ

Hilde Coppé, Noëlle Schepens, Ignace Michiels, Hans Ryckelynck Gents Madrigaalkoor, Flemish Radio Choir,Collegium Instrumentale Brugense: Conductor: Johan Duijck

Phaedra CD 92054 [In Flanders’ Fields Vol. 54 c.70 mins]

Johan Duijck (b.1954) is a choral conductor and pianist with a distinctive compositional voice, a little reminiscent of Britten's religious settings at times. His classical training and familiarity with languages and literature contribute to the feeling of authentic commitment to be felt in these cantatas with texts by Fray Luis de León,San Juan de la Cruz and Santa Teresa de Ávila.

These are three highly wrought and sensitively performed works given by two fine non-professional Flemish choirs, an instrumental group from Bruges, solo singers (Hilde Coppé's soprano pure and ravishingly beautiful) with piano and organ accompaniment respectively in the two shorter works.

The pacing and usually spare accompaniments back up the dedicated choral singing and there is a palpable feeling of devotion in response to the texts, which are supplied with translations in Paedra's unfussy presentation. One is not left feeling that the piano is a low-cost substitute for orchestra, and these three cantatas would repay examination by UK choral societies. The Cantar del Alma has a strenuous, almost frenzied section in the middle, which contrasts to the pervasive calm of more of the music.

The performances catch attention immediately and hold it. I have played the whole disc twice and will return to it.

Recommended strongly for choirs with limited resources and to collectors of sacred choral music. And Phaedra's catalogue is well worth exploring!

Peter Grahame Woolf

P.S. From his biography, I learn that Mr Duijk is also director of the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields Chorus in London, so maybe some of his music will find performances here; if they have not done so already? [Editor]