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KARL JENKINS: Motets – Polyphony/ Stephen Layton – DGG

KARL JENKINS: Motets – Polyphony/ Stephen Layton – DGG 479 3232, 74:07 [Distr. by Universal] *****:

Karl Jenkins, easily one of the most popular choral composers in the world [and easily the most performed in the U.K….Ed.], celebrates his 70th birthday this year, and DGG has kicked off the event with this release of Motets, though the title is a little misleading. In fact Jenkins has reworked some of the most popular movements from his previous works like The Armed ManRequiem, and The Peacemakers into the unaccompanied vocal form, and also composed some new pieces as well: The Shepherd, Nunc dimittis, and Locus ist (written only a week before this recording took place), the former two taken from his the Healer: a Cantata for St. Luke which was premiered in 2014.

For those who don’t know this composer, and love choral music, it’s high time you make his acquaintance. The music is accessible, but even saying that short-changes his art, as in my mind Jenkins transcends such thinking. If you think of a more complex and even more melodic version of someone like John Rutter you may have an inkling of the purely melodic nature of his work, but Jenkins is far more than that; while his work doesn’t always reach the level of the “profound” it certainly rakes the heart over a wide gamut of emotions that will leave you sitting in your listening room with chills racing down your spine. It is highly devotional but never cloying; mystical but never obscure; and so downright sincere that even those with the most hardened of hearts will come away finding common ground that they might never have though existed. This is a great place to start for a phased-in approach to Jenkins’s art.

The sound at All Hallow’s Church in Hampstead London is broad and clear, though surround would have been spectacular. Even so, a must-have.

TrackList:

Gloria: I’ll make music
Songs of Sanctuary: Cantate Domino
Gloria: The Prayer (Laudamus te)
The Armed Man: Benedictus
Songs Of Sanctuary: Ave Maria
Stabat Mater: Ave Verum Corpus
The Armed Man: Agnus Dei
The Peacemakers: Healing Light; Locus iste
Requiem: Pie Jesu; Exsultate, Jubilate
The Armed Man: God Shall Wipe Away All Tears; And the Mother did weep
Stella natalis: Lullay
The Peacemakers: Peace, Peace!
Requiem: In Paradisum; Dona Nobis Pacem
The Healer – A Cantata For St Luke’s: The Shepherd; Nunc dimittis

—Steven Ritter

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