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Giles Swayne: Convocation

The National Youth Choir of Great Britain
Mike Brewer
Michael Bonaventure organ
Stephen Wallace counter-tenor

Delphian DCD34033

The Coming of Saskia Hawkins, Op. 51 (1987)
Magnificat I, Op. 33 (1982)
The Tiger, Op. 68a (1995)
Vidit suum dulcem natum from Four Passiontide Motets, Op. 95a (2003/04)
A Convocation of Worms, Op. 67 (1995)
Eia, mater! from Four Passiontide Motets
Winter Solstice Carol, Op. 79 (19981 Midwinter, Op. 91 (2003)
Fac me cruce custodiri & Dona nobis pacem from Four Passiontide Motets
Missa Tiburtina, Op. 40 (1985/86)

This is a great CD, one of the most exciting choral recordings heard this year. I have looked out for Giles Swayne's music ever since being bowled over by his 80-minutes Cry in 1980, but opportunities to hear it have come my way but rarely.

He is a composer who has built up a commanding reputation writing for choirs 'amateurs with a wide experience of life, or of young people with their lives ahead', who deserve 'absolutely the best composers can offer them'. This brought to mind the similar philosophy of the modest, but highly gifted Finnish composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, featured in the Cork Choral Festival 2002.

The wide ranging collection responds to varied texts with pertinent idioms and treatments. There are elements of African music introduced, arrestingly so in the Mass Missa Turbina written in response to famine in Eritrea.

Michael Bonaventure puts in telling appearances at the organ, notably accompanaying Convocation of Worms, a chilling speech by Death at Herod's Court, scarifyingly interpreted by counter tenor Stephen Wallace, a real tour de force.
(sample it at http://www.delphianrecords.co.uk/monthly_newsletter/nov06/nov06.htm)

Peter Grahame Woolf