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Gerald Barry’s first, typically bold encounter with his great predecessor was in Beethoven Wo080, a 1976 work for five singers and three pianos, since withdrawn. Here he sets a letter to the Immortal Beloved, for bass voice and ensem- ble. The choral pieces that follow are more approachable, perhaps, if less immediately striking. Oh Lord, how vain is a gorgeous setting of Sir Philip Sydney, Long Time of Proust, and The Coming of Winter, with its chattering, chilly intervals, of a medieval Irish text. Under Paul Hillier, Chamber Choir Ireland tackle each of the scores as if Barry’s out-there settings and mark- ings were the most natural thing in the world, and make them sound as if they were exactly that. Tough, committed singing, done with vivid grace.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica

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