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Remoter Worlds - Judith Bingham: Choral Music / David Hill, Bbc Singers


Release Date: 02/24/2009 
Label:  Signum U.k.   Catalog #: 144   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Judith Bingham
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BINGHAM Gleams of a Remoter World. The Shepheardes Calender. Water Lilies. Irish Tenebrae. 1 Unpredictable but Providential. Beneath these Alien Stars. 2 Ghost Towns of the American West David Hill, cond; Olivia Robinson (sop); 1 Krysia Osostowicz (vn); 1 Richard Benjafield (perc); 1 Chris Brannick Read more (perc); 1 Iain Farrington (org); 1,2 BBC Singers SIGNUM 144 (71:21 Text and Translation)


This recording of choral music by Judith Bingham (b. 1952) presents a broad survey of her work as a composer. Though perhaps known mostly for her choral pieces, she has also composed a considerable amount of instrumental music, including several important works for band. After a substantial career as a singer, not least in the BBC Singers, she essentially stopped performing in 1995 to concentrate on her burgeoning compositional career, in which she has received many commissions and won numerous prizes.


The first piece, Gleams of a Remoter World , from 1997, uses a poem by Shelley about Mont Blanc. Bingham says, “The Alpine influence has been a constant in my composing life,” and here she tries to give a vocal picture of the ruggedness and chasms of the Alps. If this sort of balancing of a jagged melodic line against quiet tone clusters is Alpine, then she is right that it is a characteristic of all her music.


The following set, The Shepheardes Calender , from 2006, exhibits many of the same tonal characteristics. It was written for the St. Louis Chamber Choir, whose director is a supporter of the St. Louis Rams (which Bingham thinks is a baseball team), and uses among others, Psalm 23 and a sheep-filled Somerset folk song as texts, while Unpredictable but Providential is a take on Elizabethan bird-call songs.


The major work on this program is Irish Tenebrae , both the oldest and the youngest piece here, written first in 1990 but getting its final revision in 2007. This is an extended, seven-section work for soprano, chorus, percussion, violin, and chamber organ, with incidental solos from the choir. The words are various longer and shorter Irish meditations on mortality (a theme, in fact, in many of the texts Bingham sets but, of course, appropriate here for a piece about darkness). Though Bingham claims a connection in this work with Irish folk music, and we do hear that now and then in the violin and the last song, it uses a full range of modern choral techniques to make its point: these are not arrangements. This is also a piece that can make use of a large space, and this recording tries to capture that, moving sections of the choir to various parts of the church in which the recording was made. This is a good piece, and I can hardly imagine a better recording of it.


The two concluding pieces have a direct connection with Utah: with the exception of a brief citation from Robert Frost, all the texts are by the Utah poet, Verna Pierce Crawford. Bingham calls Beneath these Alien Stars a response to 9/11 attacks, and Ghost Towns of the American West attempts an evocation of those desiccated places.


Those who like good choral singing will like this disc, and I recommend it highly.


FANFARE: Alan Swanson
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Works on This Recording

1. Gleams of a Remoter World by Judith Bingham
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1997 
2. The Shepheardes Calender by Judith Bingham
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
3. Irish Tenebrae by Judith Bingham
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
4. My Lagan Love by Judith Bingham
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
5. The Road to Sligo by Judith Bingham
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
6. The Crying of the Women at the Slaughter by Judith Bingham
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
7. The Wake by Judith Bingham
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
8. Round the House and Mind the Dresser by Judith Bingham
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
9. I have a Secret to Tell by Judith Bingham
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
10. I Know My Love by Judith Bingham
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
11. The Sailor Boy by Judith Bingham
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Written: 2001 
12. Unpredictable but Providential by Judith Bingham
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
13. Beneath these Alien Stars by Judith Bingham
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001 
14. Ghost Towns of the American West by Judith Bingham
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2005 
15. Water Lilies by Judith Bingham
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 

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