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Magnificat - Spem in alium - BBC Music Magazine: Building a Library

10 May 2012
BBC Music Magazine
Andrew Stewart

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CKD 233 BBC Music Magazine Review

Fine voices and steady nerves always work in favour of Spem in alium. Philip Cave had both on his side in 1997, allied to an ace production team and the acoustics of Hampstead's St Jude-on-the-Hill Church. Magnificat's cast list is about as good as it gets, with Andrew Carwood, James Gilchrist, Carolyn Sampson, Sally Dunkley, Daniel Norman, James Bowman and Matthew Brook among the ranks. Cave and his singers treat Spem as a living organism, following its natural phrasing rather than the regular barline stresses suggested by a modern edition. Linn's surround-sound recording captures the various permutations of choirs as they unfold, reinforcing the work's antiphonal effects and presenting all 40 voices in the round. The rolled 'r' for the second 'Respice', precisely timed, is one of the several details.

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