I am reviewing the African Sanctus (must get round to Salaams at some point) having taken part in a performance of the work and having listened to this recording a number of times to enable me to learn how it goes.
The African Sanctus is a work that I have known of for many years but have only recently taken the time to get to know it. I did listen to the setting of the Lord's Prayer abou 20 years ago, which I confess that I found a bit twee. I have always been a bit confused as to where David Fanshawe fits into the tradition of 20th Century English music. The Lord's Prayer itself was itself subject to a ban by the BBC who did not consider it, with its accompaniment of electric guitars and drums and 'poppy' melodic style, to be a classical piece at all.
The work is a strange mixture of conventional (albeit very challenging) English choral writing and recordings of Ethnic African music from Egypt, Uganda and Sudan. Although I found the juxtaposition fascinating and the experience of performing the work immensely exhilerating, I am still unclear as to its artistic significance.
Anyway, if you wish to listen to this work, you could do a lot worse than listen to this recording. The choir on this recording, the professional Ambrosian Singers, is brilliant at singing the choral bits. The accuracy and quality of tone is quite breathtaking. There are two soprano soloists, Valerie Hill, who sings the Lord's Prayer (which I now find rather moving) and Patricia Clarke, who sings some fiendishly difficult operatic solos with amazing musicality and ease. The whole thing is presided over by Owain Arwel Hughes, who was a fellow student with David Fanshawe at the Royal College of Music.