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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Glimpse of Heaven, 8 Feb 2010
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L. E. Jones (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: James Whitbourn: Luminosity (Luminosity And Other Choral Works) (Audio CD)
A sublimely beautiful choral work, moving in its meditative tone and inspiring in its exploration of light and love and truth. Luminosity raises the spirit as it explores with great sensitivity the wonders of creation and our response to its possibilities. Beautiful voices, dynamic instrumentation that has the power to transport - heavenly!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary choral music at its best..., 15 Mar 2010
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This review is from: James Whitbourn: Luminosity (Luminosity And Other Choral Works) (Audio CD)
I was introduced to Luminosity when listening to Aled Jones's programme on Radio 3, The Choir. I was immediately enthralled by the ethereal choir over the drone of the tampura...since then and after purchasing the cd I've found myself coming back to it again and again...it's a wonderful combination of east, in the sometimes modal viola parts and of course the tampura and west, in the rich choral harmonies. Indeed this cd demonstrates that James Whitbourn is a masterful choral composer and this wonderful choir does his work more than justice.
Commotio have done several cds featuring contemporary choral works, some lesser known. Their conductor and co founder, Matthew Berry, has done a great job with this choir and they are so well regarded that works have been written especially for them.
I wholeheartedly recommend this cd..you'll keep coming back to it, of that I'm sure...
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an ethereal sound, 2 Mar 2010
By 
John Saunders "bozo" (Abergavenny, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: James Whitbourn: Luminosity (Luminosity And Other Choral Works) (Audio CD)
Modern choral music sounds a rarefied interest and Whitbourn's work isn't the best known of modern compositions. This disc however offers a spellbinding performance of first class singing. The acoustic is spacious and well suited to an ethereal sound. Excellent value.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James Whitbourn Choral Music, 9 Sep 2011
This review is from: James Whitbourn: Luminosity (Luminosity And Other Choral Works) (Audio CD)
James Whitbourn (b.1963) is a man of many parts - among other things, writer, producer, and choral conductor. His work as a composer is perhaps not so well-known to the general musical public, but this CD provides us with a good selection of his compositions which reveal a very approachable, direct and simple (not simplistic) style. It is music that speaks directly to the heart, and which also has some inventive touches of colour - the use of percussion and viola in some of the pieces, and even the tanpura - or tambura - (an Indian lute-like drone instrument) throughout the final piece.

The Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis - texts which have provided endless inspiration and challenges for composers down the centuries - were first performed in King's College Chapel, Cambridge, in 2005. The Magnificat begins with chorus and organ in full cry. The tenor solo (christopher Gillett) is constantly pitted against the choir, and almost takes on the role of cantor. The mood-range is astonishing - changing from unbuttoned grandeur to hushed meditation to unbridled jubilation. The language oscillates between Latin and English, and the tam tam adds a touch of the exotic. The Nunc Dimittis begins with the soloist intoning the text against beautiful choral sonorities, before building up to a climax underpinned by the tam tam. The "Glory be..." ending is beautifully subdued, and does not, as in most settings, repeat the ending from the Magnificat.

The "Alleluia jubilate" of 2008 is a gloriously uplifting piece for choir and organ, with trumpet interpolations. "A Prayer of Desmond Tutu" was first performed in Westminster Abbey in 2004 with Tutu himself as the reader (as on this disc), and the choir weaving his words in music. "He carried me away in the spirit" (sic) and "Pure river of water of life" are short companion pieces for unaccompanied choir, the texts being taken from Revelation 21:10-11,23; 22:1-2,5). The first of these pieces has a slow, seamless quality about it, as of rapt awe; the second sounds a little more earthly, despite its divine setting. "Eternal Rest" was written for the funeral of the Queen Mother in 2002, being adapted from the Requiem Mass, and is clearly informed by earlier requiems in the European (especially French) tradition. "Of one that is so fair and bright" is a setting of a thirteenth-century hymn to the Virgin Mary, and is marked by modal inflections. "There is no speech or language" is a setting of Pss. 19:3-4; 79:3; Lamentations 2:21, and seems to be harmonically and thematically related to the previous piece.

The major work on the programme is "Luminosity", a setting of a wide range of texts, including John the Apostle, and the Christian mystics Julian of Norwich and Teresa of Avila. The use of tam tam and tanpura, along with a text by the Zen Buddhist nun Ryonen, ensures an appeal that extends far beyond the Christian world, and the music sounds - at least superficially - somewhat like that of that other great modern exponent of religious universalism, John Tavener. The fusing of eastern and western instruments and texts in this way is meant to convey the universality of eternal love divine.

Devotees of the English choral tradition, especially those who welcome a little eclectic spice, cannot fail to enjoy this offering. Given Whitbourn's comparative youth, let's hope that there is plenty more to come.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Luminous, 1 Oct 2012
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This review is from: James Whitbourn: Luminosity (Luminosity And Other Choral Works) (Audio CD)
The main work on this CD is extremely effective indeed - the description "luminous" is apt given its title, but it is a highly atmospheric work with some very beautiful sounds and textures. It probably falls into the current vogue set by the likes of Whitacre, Lauridsen and more latterly Mealor, for relatively slow-moving, block-chord-based music, but nonetheless if you like that (and it is very nice) you'll like this. Really well sung and well recorded.
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