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Now in his early seventies, Gavin Bryars has been a maverick figure on the UK’s contemporary composition scene for more than 40 years, a composer who is impossible to pigeonhole, so wide-ranging are his interests. The two works on this superbly recorded and presented CD are recent examples of his continuing fascination with the human voice. The Fifth Century is a substantial setting of texts by the 17th-century English poet and theologian Thomas Traherne for saxophone quartet and choir. Commissioned by the US ensemble The Crossing for performance with PRISM, The Fifth Century receives an eloquent performance that captures the essence of Traherne’s (and Bryars’s) intimate spirituality. In his Two Love Songs for unaccompanied female choir, Bryars sets Petrarch, one of his favourite poets. Again, The Crossing under Donald Nally demonstrate their superb blend and impeccable intonation. A hugely rewarding CD that serves Bryars and his music so well.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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