Audio CD (22 Oct. 2012) with booklet included. Choir of Merton College, Oxford. Composer: Matthew Martin, William Byrd, James MacMillan, Judith Weir, Michael Praetorius, et al.
The beginning of Advent is celebrated with a particular solemnity at Merton. For its second recording, the choir explores the musical riches that adorn this most special time in the church year, centring on a newly commissioned sequence of Magnificat antiphons from seven leading composers including Howard Skempton, riks Eenvalds and Sir John Tavener. The mingled hopes, fears and expectations of the season are beautifully articulated by this fervent body of young singers.
Reviews:- The excellent mixed-voice Choir of Merton College, Oxford has been heading fast up the ranks of collegiate choirs since the appointment of Benjamin Nicholas as director of music in 2008, and the close involvement of Peter Phillips (of Tallis Scholars fame), both of whom are conducting here. In this eclectic repertoire, broadly following the Christian theme of darkness into light, composers range from Byrd and Victoria to Judith Weir, Gabriel Jackson and Cecilia McDowall. The fresh, well-blended voices show vitality and drill, but the basses, in particular, bloom beautifully in James MacMillan's Advent Antiphon and John Tavener's O Adonai. --The Observer. The anthems and antiphons that make up this adventurous Advent collection by the Choir of Merton College Oxford offer a broad spectrum of musical response to the pre-Christmas season. There's the abject simplicity and liturgical warmth of James MacMillan s Advent Antiphon, David Blackwell s sumptuously harmonised Lo, how a rose e er blooming, the chattering anticipation expressed in Matthew Martin's Ecce concipies, and a whole host of interesting new works that form part of a commissioning programme celebrating Merton s forthcoming 750th anniversary, as well as earlier works by Byrd and Vittoria. The singing is fresh and opulent, and delivered with a clarity and precision that sits pleasingly with the resonant ambience of the recordings. --The Scotsman. Peter Phillips and Benjamin Nicholas elicit high levels of technical and expressive achievement from their student charges. --BBC Music Magazine Christmas Issue 2012.