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Now in her mid-eighties, Sofia Gubaidulina continues to be a significant presence on the international contemporary music scene. This CD from the NDR Chor under Ahmann is an important tribute from the composer’s ‘local’ professional choir (she lives in Hamburg) as well as making a significant contribution to her discography. The major piece, Sonnengesang – Canticle of the Sun – (1997/8), plays for over 40 minutes. Setting words of St Francis of Assisi, it offers an excellent introduction to Gubaidulina’s sonic landscape: a world in which intense, mystical spiritualism is palpable. The radiant power of Gubaidulina’s language has been fully absorbed by the NDR Chor (who celebrated 70 years of excellence in 2016), and the all-important solo cello part is superbly shaped by Ivan Monighetti. No less engaging are Jauchzt vor Gott from 1989 and the powerful organ piece Hell und Dunkel (Light and Darkness), in which Christian Schmitt fully exploits the potential contrasts in the differing registers.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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