Classic CD

In a blindfold test, surely few listeners would guess this music was composed by English modernist Michael Finnissy, proponent of so-called New Complexity. His motets display a lyrical modality redolent of plainsong, and on a first listening they appear rather conservative. But the sleeve-note by fellow composer Christopher Fox explains how, far from moving into the territory of “faith minimalism” occupied by Pärt and Tavener, Finnissy is bringing to the surface a strand of Christianity present in his work since the 1960s, though intensified more recently. Certainly the music is rather medieval-sounding, despite some vibrato-laden singing especially by the female members of Voces Sacrae. Sometimes an Eastern or Byzantine influence is apparent, at others the music is reminiscent of cantillation. This is not Finnissy at his most strikingly original perhaps, but still an intriguing facet to the work of this important contemporary composer. Another enterprising release in Metier’s Finnissy series, featuring impressive singing by Voces Sacrae.

—Andy Hamilton