Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gloria; A Wagnerian Sleevenote

from The Stephen Derby Psalter Bodleian Library

I am a fan of Gloria the Sunday morning radio programme dedicated to liturgical music with spoken elements delivered in Tim Thurston's measured tones with the pacing of a high ranking eclesiastical minister. Associated Editions have issued an eponymous companion volume to the radio programme in time for the Christmas market. Subtitled 'An Introduction to 1000 years of European Sacred Music, I expected a bulkier, more intimidating scholarly tome . Actually this is a slim attractive looking volume and is   extended sleeve notes to an accompanying CD of a chronological selection of works, all with a Christmas or Advent theme by the main players of the genre. The recordings from the Hyperion catalogue are predominantly of established English choirs.

Part of spread of stained glass images.

At first glance, the most striking element is the colourful collection of images, reproductions of objets d'art from a variety of predominantly Irish sources spanning the millenium, selected  by art editor Anne Brady. The reproductions of stained glass windows are particularly vivid in sharp contrast to the black and white images of carvings.  A succint overview of each musical period,  in layman's, terms, is given interspersed with pen pictures of the 20 selected composers featured on the accompanying CD. In the foreword, the author maps the evolution of the programme from its origins as a segment on Crosscurrents in 1996 to the two hour long mainstay of the Sunday schedule on RTE LyricFM.,  Throughout the text is infused with the author's own passion for his subject. A timeline and a short glossary complete this appealing volume.

A sleevenote of Wagnerian proportions or an Ernie Wise of a book (to quote Morecombe's gag about his comedy partner  'small and perfectly formed'),  it is terrific  value at €20. Worth it for any one  of the three elements, CD, images or text, it will surely appeal to anyone with even a passing interest in choral singing.

Exeter Cathedral Choir at Christchurch Waterford

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