A luminous collection of a cappella choral works spanning five centuries, the showpiece of which is the Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal cycle, by Paul Mealor himself, of which the first movement was personally chosen by Prince William and Kate Middleton (now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) as the musical centerpiece of the April 2011 Royal wedding service. An impressive choral work that superbly combines the clean and open harmonies of the Renaissance, with the more distant harmonic intervals of today, and sits within a pitch range that always serves the four individual voice parts extremely well. An evocative work that at times demands vocal gymnastics from the singers, but most of all commands a beauty and richness of sound too often absent from today’s music.
The Scottish Con Anima Chamber Choir is quickly establishing a reputation as a choral ensemble that can comfortably adapt to the various demands of music past and present, as evidenced on this new recording. From John Ward, to Gustav Holst, to Morten Lauridsen, their delivery enhances the music’s character and style, and never sounds as if out of its element. The blend of voices from the basses to the sopranos is always in perfect equilibrium, and could be compared to a supple and malleable fabric that conductor Paul Mealor can easily mold and shape to fit the music at hand.
The Divine Art sound recording has calibrated the distance between you and the choir very well, giving it a tangible and realistic feel that wraps you in a warm blanket of sound. You will understand what I mean when you hear the final chord of the Paul Mealor work.