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For anyone looking for an introduction to the English secular partsong of the 20th century, this CD is ideal. Paul McCreesh’s programming of the disc carefully balances different moods across a wide variety of composers, including some obvious choices (Elgar, RVW) and two of the UK’s most widely performed contemporary composers, James MacMillan and Jonathan Dove. While McCreesh generally opts for restraint, even understatement, in his approach to this repertoire, he still manages to reach to the heart of the poetry and his interpretation yields rich rewards. From the pair of Grainger items – Brigg Fair (with Robert Murray a distinguished soloist) and The Three Ravens (baritone Neal Davies as soloist, with harmonium accompaniment) – through partsongs by Elgar such as Owls (An Epitaph) to MacMillan’s The Gallant Weaver (a setting of Burns) and Dove’s Who killed Cock Robin?, this is a simply gorgeous CD, superbly executed.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica

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