Notes and Editorial Reviews
Eternal Light: A Requiem. Love Divine. The Lord Is My Shepherd. Spared
Stephen Darlington, cond; Natasha Marsh (sop); Alfie Boe (ten); Christopher Maltman (bar); London Musici; Oxford Christ Church Cathedral Ch
EMI 15047 (56:47
Text and Translation)
Howard Goodall is an extremely successful British composer, the author of countless film and television scores, musicals, and many, many choral works. His music is inevitably tuneful, catchy, and thoroughly accessible, being
fit like a glove to the vehicle at hand, whatever it may be. This is another “people’s requiem” in the mold of Brahms or Faure, softening the more severe aspects of a traditional requiem with its
and threats of damnation and finding oneself with the goats instead of the sheep. It is instead, as the composer indicates, a work designed to comfort the living instead of praying for the dead. One might ask, why then call it a “requiem” (from the Latin
, meaning rest or repose)?
In the end I really don’t care, and these quibbles are probably a little insulting. The fact is that this work is a melodic gem: comforting, soothing, and extremely hopeful. Goodall’s melodic gifts are present in every bar, and it is well nigh impossible to come away from hearing the work without feeling that one is somehow uplifted. Okay, it is true that much of what you hear strikes the ears as something familiar, maybe in the way of movie music—that is what this man does. But one comes away thinking that despite the overt populist appeal—and there is no question about his intent in that regard—the work provides a comfort level for both the seasoned classical listener and those just wandering into the genre. If you like the Rutter Requiem—and I love it—this one will also have intense appeal, and really is just as good. Creating a piece that falls into the category of one of the richest and noblest traditions of classical music is no easy thing. In this regard, I think he succeeds admirably.
The remaining choral pieces are also excellent examples of Goodall’s select art. I was particularly taken with
, his “tribute” (or reflection) on the events of 9/11, when he just happened to be in Manhattan at the time and witnessed those mindless and tragic events. Wendy Cope’s poetry captures the mood of the time to perfection. Highly recommended.
FANFARE: Steven E. Ritter
Works on This Recording
Eternal Light - A Requiem by Howard Goodall
Christopher Maltman (Baritone),
Alfie Boe (Tenor),
Natasha Marsh (Soprano)
Oxford Christ Church Cathedral Choir
Period: 20th Century
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