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Book of Proverbs/ Four Proverbs
Netherlands Radio Choir & Philharmonic Orchestra/De Waart with soloists;
Argo Band/Michael Torke with Catherine Bott (soprano)
Decca 466 721-2 [52.11]

Michael Torke (b 1961) is an American 'semi-minimalist' who puts clarity and easy communication top of his agenda. These jolly settings of biblical proverbs are rather like old fashioned sermons for simple folk; the words (the Dutch choir's diction is not quite immaculate) repeated in various permutations until they are fully absorbed with, hopefully, their moral messages intact.

It is very much a matter of taste; for mine it is all rather too bland and similar in method and style, which palls. The musical method is (deliberately) transparent and the mood unremittingly cheerful. But I think a choir would find them engaging to sing and they would go down well in a concert situation, though I found the eight sections of the Book of Proverbs too many to take at a sitting.

Well put across, though a sharper acoustic might have been preferable for the choir. Catherine Bott's cool delivery suits them better. The 12 track timings are given but the (rather short) total timing is not revealed until you do your sums!

Others may well rate these compositions more highly and I would not criticise them for so doing.

Peter Grahame Woolf

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