Reviewed by John Irvine
Humphrey Clucas is a name new to Cross Rhythms. Not surprisingly since despite composing a fairly well known set of Anglican Responses while still a student at Cambridge in the early 60s, almost all of his serious work was composed within the last few years, the intervening period being spent firstly teaching, and then as a Lay Vicar at Westminster Abbey in London. Although a latecomer to the world's stage, Clucas may well become a composer of some not over the next few years, if the works on this disc are anything to go by. "My God, My God" (1991) is far and away the strongest work on the disc, a setting of verses from Psalm 22. Its 10-minute span covers a variety of choral styles and techniques in order to convey an emotive picture of the Psalmist's (and Christ's) sufferings. This is the most austere work on the disc, with choral parts never exceeding four at any time and frequently fewer. Clucas uses an unaccompanied choir because for him this represents the most spiritual of musical mediums, and the one which offers him the most creative freedom. "My God, My God" was intended for liturgical use. "Requiem" (1988), again for unaccompanied choir, but this time also for two soloists, is a work on a larger scale allowing Clucas to expand and develop his musical ideas. The piece captures the sense both of a fear of judgement and the longing for eternal rest. "Mater Dei" (1986) is a meditation on the Virgin Mary, reflecting the Magnificat, the Nativity and the Deposition from the cross. All of the pieces were enjoyable, listenable and easily accessible to the ordinary listener, quoting as they do the English choral tradition, Britten, Parry, Stanford, etc. Fine performances from vocal group Vasari. A very welcome release.
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