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Signum have made these mixed programmes a feature of their excellent catalogue. Some work better than others, of course: very eclectic programmes can sometimes be difficult for a choir to sustain. One senses the fearlessness of the UCD choral scholars and particularly of their director/arranger/composer Desmond Earley, who has shaped a sequence of traditional Irish (plus one Burns) settings with contemporary material. An Earley setting of ‘Danny Boy’, as risky an invitation to revisionism as ‘My love is like a red, red rose’, is quite beautiful, as is Eoghan Desmond’s extraordinary Oxen of the Sun, with its Joycean brio and deceptive subtlety. The scholars sing well in Irish, too, as Dublin choirs tend to, and the traditional ‘Bó na Leathadhairce’ is another highlight of an album that starts quite slowly and peters out a little at the end.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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