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This remarkable recording is the culmination of Michael Finnissy’s three-year residency at St John’s College, Cambridge. The CD comprises a contemplative sequence of music in which Finnissy takes four composers as his models – Taverner (his five-part setting of Dum transisset Sabbatum), Tallis (Vidente miraculum), Bach (Herr Christ, der ein’ge Gottessohn), Tippett Plebs angelica – for his own re-imaginings. In addition to the vocal items, Finnissy offers his own, complementary ‘doubles’ or variations in which melodic fragments, harmonies and textures are reworked. The organ doubles benefit from the luminous playing of Glen Dempsey, fast becoming one of the outstanding organists of his generation, who is joined at a second organ by James Anderson-Besant in the Plebs angelica – alternativo. Andrew Nethsingha and his forces are clearly fully inside this exquisitely beautiful, sensual music and produce a uniformly high standard of performance, as is to be expected from this address. While it’s not music that reveals itself immediately, the opportunity to savour it repeatedly on CD is ideal. A fitting tribute to Finnissy’s 75th birthday, which falls in 2021.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica


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