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With this impressive disc of works by Gabriel Jackson, the BBC Singers continue their series of releases showcasing music by their former associate composer. Jackson served in this role from 2010–13: judging by the works recorded here, it was an especially fruitful relationship. All but The Voice of the Bard, a setting of Blake whose ecstatic qualities are reminiscent of the opulence of Tippett, are world premiere recordings.

The main piece is the Airplane Cantata, an ambitious 20-minute work in which Jackson gives voice to his fascination with flight. Using an anthology of texts beginning with a 16th-century poem about Icarus, Airplane Cantata employs the pianola as accompanying instrument (brilliantly played by Rex Lawson), an appropriate choice as its popularity is roughly contemporary with the early days of manned flight. It also gives the musical impression of a flying machine. Choral Symphony of 2012 was the climax of Jackson’s tenure as associate composer. It is a four-movement homage to the city of London and, by implication, to the BBC Singers themselves.

The BBC Singers, celebrating their 90th anniversary this year, are in splendid form throughout. Anyone wanting to test the state of contemporary choral music and its performance need look no further than this CD – it’s a hugely enjoyable and rewarding experience.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Choir & Organ, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing