Canty - Carmina Celtica - Classic FM Magazine

The Music: Mediaeval plainchant or polyphony alternates with contemporary settings of religious texts, mostly written for Canty. Not all are Christian: Tavener's Two Hadiths are sayings of Mohammed. MacMillan's Os Mutorum, dedicated to St Columba, works a motif resembling TV's The Saint. The ancient orks are anonymous, the two harp solos are 18th-century folk-song arrangements.

The Performance: The voices are pure, beautifully tuned and finely balanced even at the tightest, most radiant dissonances in Peter McGarr's compositions or Joanne Metcalf's where the four-note cluster on ‘stella' seems to flash sparks. The fleeting false relations in Inviolata, the solitary piece of mediaeval polyphony, are diamonds, too. Diction is clear throughout and blemishless in the plainchant. The singers carry off the weird melisma on ‘suscepit' in the Jackson like spiritual ecstatics. Taylor's various harps have an honest, rustic appeal - or sitar-like in the Tavener against angelic ad libbing voices, eternal drones and wondrous, other-worldly harmonies.

The Verdict: Top-quality singing with the programme blurring the expected distinction between ancient and modern.

07 October 2010