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Mccabe: Visions / David Hill, Bbc Singers

Mccabe / Bbc Singers / Hill
Release Date: 12/18/2012 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8573053   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  John McCabe
Performer:  Iain Farrington
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 12 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



McCABE Marian Carols. Mangan Triptych. Amen/Alleluia. Proud Songsters. Lily-White Rose. Morning Watch 1. Evening Watch 1. Great Lord of Lords 1. Hymne to God the Father. Last and Greatest Herald 1 David Hill, cond; 1 Iain Farrington (org); BBC Singers NAXOS 8.573053 (71:49) Read more


This appears to be the only CD devoted to the choral music of composer, pianist, teacher, and writer John McCabe. Fact is, ArkivMusic.com only lists 42 current releases with anything by McCabe on them, and only 12 of them are substantially devoted to this composer’s works. This would be good coverage if he were a relatively minor composer or if he had written little, but neither is the case. McCabe is one of the most distinguished living British musicians, a pianist of extraordinary skills—he recorded the famous Decca set of the complete Haydn sonatas—and a composer of vital, colorful, dramatic, and harmonically complex but accessible music of consistently high artistic merit who has been championed by the likes of John Barbirolli, Adrian Boult, Bernard Haitink, Georg Solti, James Galway, Truls Mørk, and The King’s Singers. Many of his over 150 works in a wide variety of forms have been commissioned by top-rank ensembles and soloists in Britain, Europe, and the United States. And yet, fully half of the compositions on this new CD are receiving their first recording, and only I sing of a Maiden , the newest of the Three Marian Carols , is currently available outside of this release.


Happily, the BBC and Naxos have stepped into the breach with a set of performances fully worthy of the fine choral music this disc presents. The works come from throughout his compositional career, ranging from the carol Mary laid her Child from 1964 when he was 25 years old to The Lily-White Rose , a movement from Songs of the Garden completed in his 70th year. That 45 year span allows for a lot of exploration of method. McCabe is notable for his very individual use of modern techniques, but also for doing so without ever losing his personal lyrical voice or dramatic sensibilities. As a result, one is most struck by the easy way in which works written at disparate times have been combined into effective groupings. The Three Marian Carols were written over a period of 44 years, but each in its complementary way reflects upon the Nativity with an appealingly modal-antiqued modernity. The two Henry Vaughan settings, The Morning Watch and The Evening Watch , are separated by 35 years and were written for very different occasions, yet serve as perfect companions in their shadowy reflection on waking and retiring. Most but not all of the works are religious. There are two secular works: the Mangan Triptych , three powerful settings of poems by Irish poet James Clarence Mangan, and the touching and wonder-filled setting of Thomas Hardy’s Proud Songsters , with its unselfconscious imitation of bird song.


The recordings were made by the BBC in 2009 and 2010, and are aurally everything that a fine choral recording should be. They have a sense of space around the choir, are resonant to support blend, but keep the often complex textures clearly differentiated, and place the solo voices in the same believable acoustic. The chorus, the redoubtable BBC Singers, is as perfect as one would expect in technique, tone, and expression, and David Hill, who has done some fine work of late for the Naxos label, has outdone himself here in the imaginative and perceptive shaping of these choral gems. Iain Farrington provides a model of intelligent support in four of the pieces. It doesn’t get better than this.


FANFARE: Ronald E. Grames
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Works on This Recording

1. I sing of a maiden by John McCabe
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period:   
Written: 2008 
2. Upon the High Midnight: Dormi Jesu by John McCabe
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Written: 1973 
3. Mary Laid her Child by John McCabe
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1964 
4. Mangan Triptych by John McCabe
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1983 
5. Amen/Alleluia by John McCabe
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1991 
6. Proud Songsters by John McCabe
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989 
7. The Lily-white Rose by John McCabe
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Written: 2009 
8. The Morning Watch by John McCabe
Performer:  Iain Farrington (Organ)
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1968 
9. The Evening Watch by John McCabe
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Written: 2003 
10. Great Lord of Lords by John McCabe
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1967 
11. A Hymn to God the Father by John McCabe
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1996 
12. The Last and Greatest Herald by John McCabe
Performer:  Iain Farrington (Organ)
Conductor:  David Hill
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers
Written: 2006 

Sound Samples

I sing of a maiden
Upon the High Midnight: Dormi Jesu
Mary Laid her Child
Mangan Triptych: I. Visions
Mangan Triptych: II. Siberia
Mangan Triptych: III. Motet
Amen/Alleluia
Proud Songsters
The Lily-white Rose
The Morning Watch
The Evening Watch
Great Lord of Lords
A Hymn to God the Father
The Last and Greatest Herald

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