"Beyond All Mortal Dreams" is a Hyperion CD of (mainly) late twentieth century American "a cappella" music. The list of composers represented reads like a Who's Who of people no-one has ever heard of. I must confess that the only name familiar to me is that of Healey Willan. When, however, we see that the artists on this disc are the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge, conducted by Stephen Layton, we are entitled to expect music (as well as performances) of the highest quality, and in that we are not disappointed. Certainly, I was left amazed as to why the output of these composers is not better-known. All the works here are firmly rooted in the long-standing Western choral tradition, and borrow a good deal from Tudor polyphony and, in some cases, medieval plainchant. Some, such as Steven Stucky's "Three New Motets 'in memoriam Thomas Tallis'" and Frank Ferko's "Hildegard Triptych" openly acknowledge this debt of gratitude. Yet these are undoubtedly contemporary works, never descending to the level of mere pastiche. There is a gentle spiritual ambience throughout which fully justifies the title of the disc - a distinct impression that, for the duration of the music, we have been transported into a higher sphere. How appropriate that the final piece, by Ola Gjeilo, is entitled "Phoenix". There is nothing harsh or dissonant about this music. Healey Willan's perfectly-crafted motets, with their beautiful harmonies and cadences, are representative of the tone and quality of all the other pieces here.
The helpful liner notes include brief biographies of the various composers, along with full texts. The recording quality is up to the usual Hyperion standard, and the performances are near-flawless. This disc was a revelation to me, and is to be highly recommended.