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David Vernier
ClassicsToday.com, July 2013

…this music is not only refreshingly new, and modern, but also absolutely accessible (you’ll know when you hear it). Its solid foundation in the tonal and melodic as opposed to the atonal and tuneless world certainly has a lot to do with it; but there’s much more happening here.

Felicity Turner…will astonish you with the clarity, agility, and expressiveness with which she sings this [My love is mine] difficult four-minute piece, a marvel of pure, unaffected technique and absolutely spot-on intonation. Dove is fortunate to have the advocacy of such a first-rate ensemble as the Convivium Singers and director Neil Ferris, and we are equally lucky to have the benefit of this excellent recording that captures the choir in the realistic setting of a London church. Highly recommended. © ClassicsToday.com Read complete review




David McConnell
MusicWeb International, December 2012

Dove was a composer new to me, and I was enthralled by the music on this recording. Excellently performed by the Convivium Singers, Dove’s writing is often achingly beautiful and his text setting is masterly, often reminding me of Benjamin Britten. © 2012 MusicWeb International



Ronald E. Grames
Fanfare, September 2012

…while some of Dove’s luminous climaxes would undoubtedly be imposing with a full symphonic choir, Convivium is impressively dynamic…maintains a suitably personal scale for these settings of poems of life, loss, and acceptance by Blake, Dickinson, George Peele, Thomas Nashe, and Tennyson.

The rest of the works are premiere recordings, including another cycle of three Emily Dickinson poems for high voices, It Sounded as if the Streets Were Running, and a setting of the traditional verse Who Killed Cock Robin? Both were written for youth choirs of extraordinary skill, and both show Dove’s ability to combine naïveté and sophistication…there is the quite striking My Love Is Mine for unaccompanied mezzo-soprano, a setting of words from The Song of Solomon. It is hard to know whether to be more impressed with the lovely folklike setting, or the assured, expressive, and pitch-perfect performance by choir alto Felicity Turner.

The chorus is technically adept, and the pitching is excellent. This church acoustic does blend the voices nicely, but it creates a somewhat indeterminate aural image and a bit of a wash at the climaxes…a wholehearted recommendation. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review



Philip Greenfield
American Record Guide, September 2012

[Jonathan Dove’s] music is accessible and well crafted. He also has a flair for making great poetry come alive in song. His Passing of the Year…is an engaging cycle of seven songs for double chorus and piano that makes excellent use of poems by Blake, Tennyson, and Emily Dickinson, among others.

The British chamber choir is aptly named, as these are convivial performances caught in strong, clear sound by the Naxos engineers. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online




David A. McConnell
MusicWeb International, June 2012

This will turn out to be, I am sure, one of my favorite recordings of 2012.

The recording opens with The Passing of the Year, a song-cycle written for double chorus and piano, dedicated in memory of Dove’s mother. The work, which is made up of seven movements divided into three main sections, takes the listener literally and metaphorically through changing seasons.

Even after listening several times, Dove’s setting leaves me shaken.

The rest of the program is just as impressive as the Song Cycle, and displays a greater variety of musical styles…

Dove’s music is impressive, with attractive melodies and tonal harmonic writing. Nevertheless, he is not afraid to use dissonance when it more strongly projects and expresses the text, and his writing displays a particularly strong skill in creating onomatopoeic effects.

Dove receives the strongest advocacy from his performers. The Convivium Singers, under the assured direction of Neil Ferris, display admirable control of the long line and excellent intonation. I find the balance to be a bit dominated by the women’s voices, and would not have minded a few more men in each section. But the balance never detracted from my immense enjoyment of this recording. Accompanist Christopher Cromar’s playing is splendid, self-effacing virtuosity that serves the choir and the music.

I urge you to purchase this CD as quickly as possible. It is gorgeous and poignant music, performed with wholehearted fervor by an excellent choir, all at budget price. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Malcolm Riley
Gramophone, June 2012

The Convivium Singers are a 30-strong mixed-voice group…youthfully fresh-toned and evenly balanced. They tackle Dove’s distinctive and vivid settings with great vigour and sense of purpose.

The major work on the disc, composed in memory of the composer’s mother, is The Passing of the Year…The combination of double chorus and piano (with Christopher Cromar providing solidly satisfying support) offers a wealth of textural and dramatic possibilities, most…of which are eagerly grasped by the composer.

The rest of the programme consists of unaccompanied pieces, one of the most appealing of which is the substantial Advent motet I am the day, a Spitalfields Festival commission, which includes a subtle hint of ‘O come, O come Emmanuel’. Upper voices alone are put through their paces in It sounded as if the streets were running…This is an enjoyable disc of approachable music by a master of choral writing. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone




Terry Blain
BBC Music Magazine, May 2012

Many contemporary composers write for choirs, few with the sharp imagination and genuine originality of Jonathan Dove…It’s beautifully conceived music, soaring to a glorious, bright climax in this fine performance by the 30-voice Convivium Singers. © 2012 BBC Music Magazine



Paul Corfield Godfrey
MusicWeb International, April 2012

Jonathan Dove has rediscovered the [part-songs], and he has done it proud. The main work on this disc is the only one with piano accompaniment—well played with plenty of solidity by Cromar—and it consists of seven well-contrasted settings of which that of Adieu! Farewell, earth’s bliss—to words by Thomas Nashe—is quite simply a masterpiece.

In beauty may I walk is a slightly over-complex setting of a simple Navajo poem. As an interlude we are given a setting for solo mezzo-soprano of My love is mine from The Song of Songs. This is an absolute gem, a perfectly straight setting of beautiful English words in the translation of Miles Coverdale set to a two-limbed melody that has all the charm of a traditional folksong. There is nothing pretentious at all here, nothing trite and nothing unworthy. It is superlatively well sung by Felicity Turner, who has no trouble at all with reaching the higher notes required on occasion and never betrays the slightest problems with pitch in her long unaccompanied reading. If folk singers could be persuaded to look at this piece, it would go down a bomb in folk clubs right across the land.

The earliest setting here, Who killed Cock Robin?, is also one of the most complex and certainly sounds the most difficult to sing. It is great fun, a resolutely jolly setting of the traditional rhyme with plentiful opportunities for imitations of the various creatures who volunteer for the various funereal duties requested. The composer describes the piece as a “fable” but surely that is a misnomer; a fable is a story with a moral, while this is a delightfully amoral poem where even the murderer gets away with it.

Most of the works on this disc date from a five year period between 1996 and 2001; one hopes that Dove will continue to explore the realms of possibility that the part-song opens up. The latest pieces are three settings of Emily Dickinson; and the second is a fabulously delicate piece © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review






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4:10:05 PM, 20 October 2014
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