Briggs/ Filsell: Contemporary Choral Music [Vasari Singers, Jeremy Backhouse] [Naxos: 8573111]
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This recording brings together two of today's finest British organist/composers and includes specially commissioned works. Jeremy Filsell's music is rooted in a long liturgical tradition and ranges from a poignant Epitaph to a Te Deum which recreates the spirit of William Walton's glorious piece for the 1953 Coronation. David Briggs's Pange lingua portrays the wonders of the Holy Communion in music, and his dramatic and grandiose Messe pour Saint-Sulpice also has moments of quiet, emotional profundity. The Vasari Singers' Great British Anthems (8.572504) has been described as "essential listening" (Gramophone).
The Vasari Singers have already been recognised as superb performers, with their acclaimed album Great British Anthems (8.572504) given "Recommended" status by Gramophone magazine. Jeremy Filsell's reputation as a performer also precedes him in his accompaniment of songs by Vierne (8.572346) and Widor (8.572345) which have been acclaimed as "deeply felt and extremely communicative" (Fanfare). The creative frisson of the close collaborations in this recording makes it uniquely special, with both composers performing alongside the Vasari Singers and providing invaluable insight into their works, including those specially commissioned for this CD.
'This lovely CD was not at all what I expected...The scene is set with Filsell's Tomorrow shall be my dancing day which is lively and thoroughly entertaining and makes it obvious that the Vasari Singers are a very classy group indeed...I enjoyed this disc enormously and would urge music-lovers to buy it at once and wash away their preconceptions.' --MusicWeb International
Top Customer Reviews
The disc is presented as a 50/50 split between two British organist-composers, Jeremy Filsell and David Briggs, both of whom now work Stateside, and this creates a lovely contrast of styles. Briggs's beautiful anthem "Pange Lingua" opens his half of the CD in what is a true virtuoso performance of a rich, vibrant and complex anthem - commissioned and premiered by Vasari Singers and a real highlight of the CD. Following that is a short organ improvisation by Briggs, before the above-mentioned Briggs Mass concludes the recording in stunning style.
The opening half of the CD is taken with the music of Jeremy Filsell, again featuring new commissions, and Filsell's cycle of Morning and Evening Canticles (Te Deum, Jubilate, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis) written for the choir of Windsor Chapel (where Filsell used to sing). The Te Deum in particular stands out with it's Walton-esque references, intricate organ colour and floating soprano lines.
The Vasari Singers excel on this recording under Jeremy Backhouse's direction and the audio quality is absolutely superb, with a wonderful balance between choir and organ throughout. Interesting to note the Producer Adrian Peacock also produced the Notre Dame mass so he must have an ear for Briggs's music.