O Guiding Night - The Spanish Mystics / Christophers, The Sixteen
O’REGAN Fleeting, God. O vera digna hostia. Beloved, All Things Cease. BYRCHMORE The Dark Night. Prayer of St. Teresa of Avila. A Birthday. WILLIAMS O Guiding Night. Let Nothing Trouble You. O Adonai
Harry Christophers has recorded a great deal of music from Spain’s Siglo de Oro. This program marks a new view of the same period, one that starts with the two Carmelite mystics of the time, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. They were not only mystics in the spiritual life but reformers of the Carmelite religious orders. Among the nine works on this program are six new works commissioned by the Genesis Foundation, each of the three composers setting the prayer of St. Teresa of Avila, “Let Nothing Trouble You,” and a poem of St. John of the Cross, “The Dark Night.” An additional recent composition by each of the three fills out the program. This follows an earlier Christophers disc ( Fanfare 33:1) for which the same foundation commissioned settings of Padre Pio’s prayer by three other British composers. St. Teresa’s prayer is shorter than the six strophes of St. John’s poem.
Tarik O’Regan is the youngest but the most familiar of these three composers, for earlier he had a disc to himself (30: 1) and has received similar commissions to this one. O’Regan and Roderick Williams, the oldest of the three, both set the prayer unaccompanied and the poem with piano. Ruth Byrchmore also sets the prayer unaccompanied but the poem with organ, the magnificent instrument at St. Giles, Cripplegate, where this program was recorded. (Robert Quinney plays both organ and piano.) I hear more similarity than difference in these works, but that suggests that the mystical texts inspired all three composers alike. The three settings of the prayer run five to six minutes, the three of the poem just over 10 minutes each.
The brief added works are varied. O’Regan sets a 10th-century text of St. Wulfstan in Latin, commissioned by Winchester Cathedral. Byrchmore sets a poem by Christina Rossetti commissioned for a St. Cecilia’s Day celebration. Williams sets the Advent antiphon O Adonai in Latin, commissioned by Ex Cathedra ensemble. All are unaccompanied. Christophers brings the excellent performances to life in his accustomed manner. This is a fine program of new music.
FANFARE: J. F. Weber
Catalog Number: COR16090
Composer: Roderick Williams, Ruth Byrchmore, Tarik O'Regan
Conductor: Harry Christophers
Orchestra/Ensemble: The Sixteen