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In this CD of contemporary settings, the Marian Consort cast a fresh light on an ancient tradition. Here the settings are not only ethereal and beautiful, but also reflect that Mary was a woman of flesh and blood who had extraordinary strength of character, depicted in Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s vibrant and rhythmic Gaude et laetare. Also brimming with life is Judith Weir’s contrasted Ave Regina caelorum, which is breathtaking in its effervescence. From this interesting collection, which includes music by Gabriel Jackson, Howells, Matthew Martin, Hilary Campbell, Roxanna Panufnik and James MacMillan, the outstanding piece for me is Song to the Virgin Mary by Andrzej Panufnik, whose inspired attention to detail casts a rapturous spell over the listener. The Marian Consort’s penetrating performances illuminate the ancient texts. An outstanding disc.

SHIRLEY RATCLIFFE Read the full review on Agora Classica

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