Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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New Zealand Choral Music
The New Zealand Youth Choir/Karen Grylls

These are April-fresh voices unaccompanied (apart from the two horns in the Hamilton piece) and in unfamiliar though instantly accessible repertoire.

SAM PIPER's Kyrie from the Requiem is Howells-inflected. Piper was born in 1977. JOHN RITCHIE's deep vintage British school sequence is called Canary Wine. This comprises five songs redolent of Finzi's Elegies, Moeran's Phyllida and Corydon and Kodaly's choral works. Ritchie was born in 1921 and is not entirely straight-faced - the humorous wail in Men's Shadows is certainly worth hearing. There are two floating delights of songs from Lie Deep My Love by DAVID GRIFFITHS (b. 1950). Britten's Hymn is an influence as also is William Mathias's choral/orchestral cavalcades such as This Worlde's Joie. DOUGLAS MEWS (1918-93) Lovesong of Rangipouri is more challenging having something in common with the choral writing of Nicholas Maw and Christopher Browne. He sets a Maori love chant. TE WEHI WHANAU (b.1934) is an ecstatic unison song powerfully sung and reminding us of African choirs. RICHARD PUANACKI's Ka Waiata is another Maori-based song which has quite a popular hymn-like harmony to it. DAVID HAMILTON (b.1955) is represented by The Moon is Silently Singing. This is the undoubted highlight of the disc. The music is touching, melodic, vernally new-minted, ululating slides adding to the freshened mysticism of the music. The two horns play a very full role and do so in some hushed wonderment. The whisper-singing effects are breathtaking. JENNY MACLEOD's Childhood is a collage of incidents and ideas from childhood. It has much eager charm and spontaneity seen from the child's perspective - where ideas tumble out and interrupt each other. Mildly challenging but nothing to frighten the even slightly adventurous listener. Sovereign and joyous singing in an open acoustic with just enough reverb to bring out richness without clouding lines.

There are full notes and the design details are uniformly well judged and eye-catching - all aptly matched to the music. A sheerly lovely production amidst a dead sea of choral CDs. Would that all choirs had the freshness and the depth of these New Zealanders. Highest praise for music and musicians. Five stars - no doubt about it. Try the Hamilton and the Ritchie if you have any doubts but start with the Hamilton!


Rob Barnett

Morrison & Co Music Trust

PO Box 1395


New Zealand


Rob Barnett

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