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The only (minor) quibble here is that the young Convivium voices sound slightly remote in the admittedly difficult acoustics of Portsmouth Cathedral. Malcolm Archer is well practised at writing for such grand spaces. He never muddies the sound with excess notation or decoration that doesn’t add to the architecture of a piece. His instinct for text is evident in his lovely The Carol of the Stable, where the light-voiced ‘l’ sounds carry much of the music. The title setting of Donne is eminently singable and plain-spoken, a reminder that the Dean of St Paul’s was a preacher as well as a ‘Metaphysical’. As we mark the centenary of the first world war next year, we might do worse than adopt Archer’s In War, Resolution (based on a line Churchill wrote in 1948 but apparently said 30 years earlier) as an anthem of peace.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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