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Voices - O'Regan / Brown, Choir of Clare College

Release Date: 03/21/2006 
Label:  Collegium Records   Catalog #: 130   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Tarik O'Regan
Conductor:  Timothy Brown
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

O?REGAN Dorchester Canticles. 1 Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis: Variations for Choir. Sequence for St. Wulfstan: 3 Motets. Bring rest, sweet dreaming child. Columba aspexit. Gratias tibi. Ave Maria. Care Charminge Sleepe. 1 Locus iste. Colimaçon 2 ? Timothy Brown, dir; James McVinnie (org); Read more class="SUPER12">1,2 Clare College Ch, Cambridge ? COLLEGIUM COLCD 130 (66:23 & )

Here we have a pleasingly varied selection of religious music (?religious? in variously stricter or looser senses) by 27-year old Tarik O?Regan?Oxford- and Cambridge-educated, resident in New York City since 2004, and currently associated with the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. O?Regan?s harmonic language blends tonal and modal elements?never saccharine, and if occasionally a bit prickly, clearly so in response to the text?s affect. His approach to text declamation is similarly flexible?sometimes straightforwardly syllabic, at other times using liberal repetition and polyphonic juxtaposition of multiple lines.

Writing of the earliest work on this program, the 1998 Locus Iste , O?Regan notes, ?much contemporary choral music [sits] easily, but often exclusively, within the confines of liturgy or surrounded by the walls of a concert hall. Although transcending the mutual limitations of both environments in one work was a challenging goal, the struggle heralded a stylistic transition and came to define much of my output.?

That tension is perhaps of most moment with respect to the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis Variations, since they involve the most overtly liturgical texts in the collection. I remain somewhat of two minds about the almost bewildering variety of means employed in the Magnificat , which, as the composer observes, ?recreate[s] the Renaissance practice of alternating chant and polyphony?; in fact, the plainchant verses are juxtaposed with just about every other kind of texture imaginable, ranging from robust homophonic chords, through breathless unmetered chatter at ?et exsultavit,? through an expressive perpetuum-mobile fugato beginning at ?sicut erat in principio.? On the other hand, the work is subtitled ?Variations,? and listeners for whom variety is not merely the spice of life but its salt and pepper will find this an engaging listen indeed.

My own favorite is perhaps the unexpectedly agitated Columba aspexit (?The Dove peered in?), based on a sequence of the same title by Hildegard von Bingen. As O?Regan notes, the text ?is not as peaceful in intent as may be first assumed from the translation of the title?; and while that text speaks only of the dove (a conventional symbol of the Holy Spirit) ?peering in,? O?Regan?s dove is clearly flying all over the room and getting in the way, as, theologically, the Holy Spirit has a marked tendency to do??living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword,? as Scripture has it.

The performances by the choir of Clare College?a mixed ensemble since 1971?are all that one would expect from the British collegiate tradition, and the recording acoustic has a nicely close-up transparency that is less conventionally British, while preserving enough resonance so as not to sound too dry. O?Regan?s own annotations are, as readers will by now have gathered, considerably illuminating. All in all, a highly appealing release.

FANFARE: James Carson
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Works on This Recording

Beatus auctor saeculi by Tarik O'Regan
Conductor:  Timothy Brown
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Columba aspexit by Tarik O'Regan
Conductor:  Timothy Brown
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Locus iste by Tarik O'Regan
Conductor:  Timothy Brown
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis by Tarik O'Regan
Conductor:  Timothy Brown
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Clare College Choir
Period: 20th Century 

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