Copland/Barber - Dunedin Consort - The Times

A no-nonsense, entirely British choral sound emanates from the Dunedin Consort in the clearer New World air of music by Aaron Copland and Samuel Barber. Copland asked that his In the beginning - a 15-minute setting of the first two chapters of the Book of Genesis - be sung "in a gentle manner, like the reading of a familiar, oft-told story". And, with mezzo Sally Bruce-Payne in the role of honorary cantor, that is just what we get.

The dance of the creation of light, and the slow chordal progress of the Sabbath, is followed, in this most imaginatively planned programme, by Barber's Reincarnations, another work of the 1920s.

These three "contemporary madrigals", settings of James Stephens's adaptations of Gaelic verse, look ahead to Barber's later Celtic and James Joyce settings. An exuberant celebration of Mary Hynes of Ballylea is offset by the tolling crescendo of grief which is the wake for Anthony O'Daly, and this in turn finds comfort in the lilting euphony of The Coolin. Here, too, is Barber's austere setting of the Gerard Manley Hopkins Heaven-haven and, finally, the Agnus Dei born of Barber's adapting his famous orchestral Adagio for human voices.

The Times
05 February 2001