Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
This enjoyable collection of Marian anthems and broadly Marian-themed sacred music from Nottingham's Choir of St Mary the Virgin may not be of the standard of the top cathedral or Oxbridge choirs but there are no problems with the performance and the audio quality, courtesy of Gary Cole from Regent Records. While the singing is good what really grabs our attention is the content. We open in the 16th century with pieces by Orlando de Lassus, Tomas Luis de Victoria and John Taverner before hearing some lovely works from across Europe by Anton Bruckner, Edvard Grieg, Sergei Rachmaninov, Igor Stravinsky, Pawel Lukaszewski, Francis Poulenc and Arvo Part. Some, such as Bruckner's "Ave Maria", are well-known and others deserve to be. In this latter category the disc gives debut recordings to three motets by Swiss organist Lionel Rogg, two of which were written for the choir and which Rogg himself accompanies. After the excursion into Europe we return to England for Sir John Tavener's "A Hymn To The Mother Of God" and two works by Herbert Howells: "Regina Caeli" and the "Magnificat" from his Gloucester Service. The range of content, while remaining focused on the BVM, is impressive and the presence of the new works by Rogg mean that there is certainly something fresh for even the most dedicated collector. If you have any interest in traditional choral singing this is worth investigating. The price, even after adding postage, is reasonable so visit www.stmaryschoirnottingham.com/recordings/mater-christi.html and support this aspiring choir.
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