Review (Scotsman): Madrigali: Fire & Roses

December 12th, 2011

Madrigali: Fire and Roses
Divine Art, £13.99
Rating: ****

‘MADRIGALI: Fire and Roses is a golden blend of a cappella repertoire, both ancient and modern, sung by the fresh voices of Aberdeen’s Con Anima Chamber Choir under its director Paul Mealor. Mealor’s own music is featured in the juicy atmospherics of his short choral cycle, Now sleeps the crimson petal. So are two beautifully crafted works by the American composer Morten Lauridsen, including the disc’s title track Madrigali, vivid modern settings of Italian Renaissance poems that harness echoes of Monteverdi. Genuine Renaissance madrigals by the stylistically anarchic Gesualdo, John Wilbye and others, including Monteverdi himself, are complemented by more recent settings by Holst and James MacMillan.’
KENNETH WALTON, Scotsman (December 2011)

Review (Classical Music Sentinel): Madrigali: Fire & Roses

December 12th, 2011

The following review appeared on Classical Music Sentinel

MADRIGALI: Fire and Roses – Con Anima Chamber Choir – Paul Mealor (Conductor) –
809730509421 – Released: October 2011 – Divine Art DDA25094

Morten Lauridsen – Madrigali: Six ‘fire songs’ on Italian Renaissance poems
Claudio Monteverdi – Se per havervi, oimè
Carlo Gesualdo – Luci serene e chiare
Vincenzo Ruffo – Lo piango
Girolamo Scotto – Amor, io sento l’alma
Yvo Barry – Quando son piu lontan
Henricus Schaffen – Ov’è, lass’, il bel viso?
Paul Mealor – Now sleeps the crimson petal
Anonymous – There is no rose
John Ward – Upon a bank with roses set about
John Wilbye – Lady, when I behold the roses
Gustav Holst – Now sleeps the crimson petal
James MacMillan – So deep
Morten Lauridsen – Chanson éloignée

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.

Jean-Yves Duperron – November 2011

Review: Scottish Federation of Organists

January 28th, 2010

Our performance for the Scottish Federation of Organists back in May got a little mention in their latest newsletter, out this month.

First we had a concert by the Con Anima Chamber Choir, directed by Paul Mealor: beautiful singing with a programme of great variety from Tallis to Tippett, religious and secular, which held us spellbound. Bridget Black, SFO News (January 2010)

Review: Stabat Mater

January 22nd, 2010

The leading music magazine, Gramophone has reviewed our recent CD, Stabat Mater – here’s what they say:

‘Mealor’s contemplative melodicism is well championed by Con Anima… Mealor is one of the new generation of composers who have eschewed ugly, unresolved dissonance in favour of melody and listener-communication. The Stabat Mater is movingly serene and beautiful. His style shows a link with the past which is welcome, for Mealor undoubtedly has a voice of his own… The Aberdeen Choir sing with consistent dedication and fine blending, and Drew Tulloch’s delicate piano accompaniments are played with great finesse.’ Ivan March, Gramophone (January 2010)

Congratulations go to our very own Paul Mealor too!

Review: Lux Aeterna: A Celebration of the Divine in Music

November 5th, 2007

Con Anima Chamber Choir

A review of the recent concert, Lux Aeterna: A Celebration of the Divine in Music, by Alan Cooper.

The lights were dimmed to a warm reddish glow and suddenly, from nowhere, and yet from all around, the disembodied voices of the choir singing wordlessly the music of the opening motet by Thomas Tallis bathed the Cathedral in the most wonderful choral sound. As the choir processed to the front of the congregation, the tones of the most famous motet by Tallis swelled in richness and in power. This was not just great singing; it was a unique emotional experience.

The performance of Con Anima complemented his [Morten Lauridsen’s] music beautifully. Once again dynamic contrasts were quite glorious, and the richness of the singing inspired me. Lux Aeterna uses organ accompaniment to support the voices and the Cathedral organist Dr Andrew Morrisson was splendid, ensuring that the music flowed without interruption.

For the full review please see the Aberdeen University Music website

Download an excerpt of Con Anima performing Morten Lauridsen’s O Nata Lux from Lux Aeterna [taken from an amateur recording of the performance]

[duration 04’29, size 4.1Mb]