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The budget label Naxos has done sterling work on behalf of neglected British music. One must also thank the performers and acknowledge the John Ireland Trust for its financial support of the recording. This latest CD of secular choral music by Ireland and Moeran brings attention to music that is too little known. Except perhaps for reasons of fashion it remains a puzzle why, for it’s beautifully written as well as ever expressive and responsive to the texts. Ireland’s part-song output is slender but, as Jeremy Dibble in his authoritative liner note asserts, his understanding of choral forces comes from his many years as an organist at two of London’s fashionable churches. Moeran’s Songs of Springtime (1929) and the more substantial Phyllida and Corydon (1939) reflect the composer’s interest in the techniques of imitation and word painting practised by the Elizabethan madrigalists. Throughout their generous programme, George Parris and The Carice Singers (founded 2011) are alert to the subtleties of these settings by Ireland and Moeran. This small choir of young voices possesses an admirable evenness of tone, and their bright, well-focused sound is captured well by the Naxos engineers. However, one does hanker for the last ounce of clarity in their diction.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica


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