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Voice of the Soul is one of the most original and innovative discs I have come across for a long time. It marries western music and Maori tradition through language and traditional instruments combined with improvisation, producing a primal and elemental atmosphere. It’s a haunting landscape of sound, and the talented 16 singers from the New Zealand Chamber Choir led by Karen Grylls enter into this genre with great finesse. Horomona Horo draws evocative sounds from the taonga puoro (traditional instruments). Helen Fisher’s Pounamu shows how the two traditions can work together to stunning effect, as does David Hamilton’s Karakia of the Stars, the beauty of which I found quite overwhelming. Perhaps the most intriguing work is Hildegard’s O viridissima virgo chant, with improvisations on traditional instruments, and the singers also improvising to Latin and Maori texts around chant extracts. I’m sure it would have found approval with the visionary saint who had taken chant into places it had never been before – and what is more, it works!

SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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