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David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2020

‘Heaven is full of Stars’ released to mark the Fortieth Anniversary of Vasari, one of the UK’s famous chamber choral groups with their founder, Jeremy Backhouse.

Over recent years, they have, by pure coincidence, performed a number of anthems on a star-based theme, mostly from British composers, but here opening with Stars by the Latvian-born, Ēriks Ešenvalds. Their extensive repertoire is largely based on sacred works with just a sprinkling of secular scores from today’s most interesting composers. Twelve of the eighteen tracks were written within the present century, yet, with their roots in tonality, they will please the most conservative ears. To mention specific tracks would be to detract from the thought-through programme planned of Vasari which retains interest throughout. Yet forgive me in relating that the beautiful melody in Philip Stopford’s Ave Maria will lodge in your memory, while the ‘shock and awe’ moment in Patrick Gowers’ Viri Galilaeri fully meets its objective. Much of the disc is quiet and gives full scope to explore the floating quality achieved by the fine and perfectly balanced group with their unfailing intonation. This most generously filled disc is completed by the four substantial Salisbury Motets originally performed by five hundred singers and two organists in Salisbury Cathedral, but here reduced to the needs of a local church. It certainly makes a joyous and uplifting conclusion to a most welcome release. © 2020 David’s Review Corner

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