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John Quinn
MusicWeb International, November 2012

Roxanna Panufnik’s All Shall be Well was commissioned by the choir to mark the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It’s one of three pieces on the programme for which the choir, which otherwise sings unaccompanied throughout, is joined by cellist Richard May. The composer describes her work as a “conversation” between the two texts. The singers are divided into two a cappella choirs, separated…by the cellist. The result is a most interesting and effective piece…The performance seems to be very committed and certainly convinced this listener.

The other two works that feature the cellist are those by Tavener and Nystedt. The Tavener effectively offers a mélange of his Orthodox-influenced choral music and The Protecting Veil. The choral writing is hypnotic and rather beautiful while the cello part, which May plays superbly, is often impassioned.

David Ogden directs the choir very well indeed and they are splendidly prepared.

…the fluent tempo for Pierre Villette’s exquisite little miniature seems ideal to me and the popular Rachmaninov piece is very well done; the fervour is built impressively as the music unfolds.

On this showing the Exultate Singers are a very good choir and the enterprise of their programme is highly commendable. The recorded sound is good and the documentation will be helpful to anyone coming new to some or all of this music… © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Philip Greenfield
American Record Guide, September 2012

The works incorporating Richard May’s sonorous cello playing are of particular interest. Knut Nystedt’s 15-minute Stabat Mater is an emotionally rich treatment of that familiar medieval text, with the cello adding both passion and compassion to the Virgin’s ordeal at the foot of the cross. I also can recommend Roxanne Panufnik’s churning but comforting ‘All Shall Be Well’, a work dedicated to her father, the composer. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

William Hedley
International Record Review, September 2012

‘This is a beautifully sung account with a fine narrative sense and scrupulous attention to the composer’s dynamic markings…Richard May’s cello playing in all three works is outstandingly fine and his contribution is one of the great strengths of the disc. The recording is full and rich, beautifully balanced and clear, with an attractive church acoustic…Choral enthusiasts to whom the programme appeals shouldn’t hesitate.’ © 2012 International Record Review

Terry Blain
BBC Music Magazine, August 2012

Blend, unanimity, dynamics: this CD is gratifyingly strong on eternal verities of good choral singing…The same ability to see a work whole, and mark its structural progress with telling interpretive signposts, characterises conductor David Ogden’s shaping of Vaughan Willliams’s unaccompanied motet Valliant for Truth…Overall, this imaginatively programmed disc marks the Exultate Singers out as a choir to be reckoned with © 2012 BBC Music Magazine

David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2012

Nine composers from very different times, different countries, and drawn to sacred music for different reasons. At the head of that list would be placed the young Ralph Vaughan Williams who spent a considerable amount of time gathering together, arranging and composing the large hymnal now used by the Church of England. He had no religious inclinations, but continued writing music with sacred connotations, one such work being the motet, Valiant-for-Truth, written on the death of a friend in 1940. Roxanna Panufnik’s All Shall Be Well reflected her feelings on a twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, part of the text taken from a Polish prayer as they went into battle. Holst’s setting of the canticle Nunc dimittis does not appear to have been particularly important to him and was first performed forty years after his death; Bogoroditsye Dyevo, is part of Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil, the pinnacle of Russian sacred works; Gorecki’s vivid and outgoing Totus Tuus came in celebration of Pope John Paul’s third pilgrimage to his native Poland; O magnum mysterium by the Finnish composer, Jaakko Mantyjarvi, spreads modern harmonies over its roots embedded in chant, while the disc’s most extensive work comes from the Finnish composer, Knut Nystedt, with the 13th century poem reflecting Mary’s agony at seeing her son on the cross. I leave my first choice to last: John Tavener’s Svyati is a masterpiece in expressing his response to death from his adopted Russian Orthodox Church. Exultate’s style of singing stands apart from the mainstream major British choral groups, the warm quality generated by thirty-eight voices, and being much larger than their famous counterparts, the tone is not stressed. Very good sound from the popular UK recording location in St. George’s, Bristol. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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