Gothic Voices - Mary Star of the Sea - BBC Radio 3 'Record Review'

First though that sequence of imaginative journeys on recent recordings I haven’t managed to squeeze into Record Review as yet, starting with Gothic Voices. Their new recording is called Mary Star of the Sea, a celebration of the biblical matriarch in Marian settings from the 13th to the 15th century which is where we’d expect to find Gothic Voices, and new pieces from two contemporary composers which is more unexpected. Here’s an example of how they work together. Leonel Power’s Beata progenies followed by Andrew Smith’s new setting of the ancient Marian poem Stand well mother under the cross. First the 15th century Power, O blessed birth, how glorious is the virgin who begot the King of Heaven.

<Power Beata Progenies (track 16 on the album)>

<Andrew Smith Stond wel, Moder, under rode – Part 1 (track 17 on the album)>

The first part of Andrew Smith’s setting of the great medieval Marian poem Stond wel, Moder, under rode which you can also hear in anonymous 13th century monodic form before the other piece I’ve just played you, Leonel Power’s Beata progenies.

Gothic Voices taking us on a journey exploring the mythical and religious qualities of Mary, and then the more human figure of the mother of Jesus, her devotion and agony. Just four voices, often only one or two at a time but singing with a clarity of focus and keen beauty that’s always affecting in musical territory they seem able to inhabit like few other ensembles.

Mary Star of the Sea is Gothic Voices’ first recording for its new label Linn Records.

BBC Radio 3 'Record Review'
24 December 2016