Iain Quinn, The Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge, Sarah MacDonald - The Garment Of Holiness

Published Friday 6th September 2019
Iain Quinn, The Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge, Sarah MacDonald - The Garment Of Holiness
Iain Quinn, The Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge, Sarah MacDonald  - The Garment Of Holiness

STYLE: Choral
RATING 7 7 7 7 7 7 7
LABEL: Regent REGCD503

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

Iain Quinn has been reviewed elsewhere on this site but as a performer not a composer, being a well-respected organist. (He is also a published author although his subjects are too specialised to be of general interest.) This release is his debut as a composer, being part of Sarah MacDonald and the Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge's on-going exploration of new works by previously unrecorded composers. Indeed, the album's sub-title of "Choral and organ music by Iain Quinn" is precisely what we get: 76 minutes on new music recorded at Ely Cathedral by a good choir in fine voice. Regent Records along with Sarah MacDonald and her choir are to be applauded for this series as it allows a wider audience to explore the works of composers we may not otherwise meet, confident that the quality of the singing and its recording will be first-rate and even if we buy an album that does not particularly appeal to us we know that the composer has been given every opportunity to shine and if we do not like what he has written then it will be a matter of personal taste. The programme opens with the Easter anthem 'Regina caeli' ('Queen of Heaven') that serves as a good introduction to what will follow. There are plenty of Latin texts throughout - many very familiar in choral singing - and translations are provided in the CD booklet. Quin says that he writes for both church and concert hall although those of us who do not worship in Latin may feel excluded. However as a listening experience - the word entertainment may unintentionally trivialize the music - this is well worth hearing and choir directors may find much of interest as they seek to present new music to their audience. I would not be at all surprised if Quinn's setting of William Blake's "Cradle Song" gets heard at carol concerts across the country in years to come. Regretfully I have to say that some of the other material blurred into one as I listened. Nothing was particularly bad - far from it - but it was all perhaps too much of a muchness for me, making the organ solo "Continuum (N-O-T-R-E-D-A-M-E)" played by Shanna Hart a welcome change. The concluding title piece was another highlight showing me that while not all of Iain Quinn's work is to my taste, he can certainly produce compositions that I enjoy and would like to hear again.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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