It’s not often that discs of contemporary a capella choral music come my way but that’s what The Stolen Child: Choral Works of Scott Perkins is. There are three works on the disc exploring the themes of loss of innocence, nature, magic, sleep and death. The first, The Stolen Child (2006), sets texts by WB Yeats, the second, A Word Out of the Sea (2003), is a Whitman setting and the final work, The World of Dream (2016), uses texts by WH Auden and Walter de la Mare. The first is set for tenor, baritone and choir, the second for tenor and choir and the last for choir alone though the sound world Perkins’ creates is such that the solo roles are more or less blended into the overall sound.
All three works are similar in that the emphasis seems to be on the higher voices and everything blending into a conversational, murmury, shimmering sort of sound. It’s hypnotic and intriguing but tends to rather downplay the text which becomes more or less a series of phonemes. A Word Out of the Sea perhaps treats the text in a more conventionally dramatic way with more emphasis on the tenor soloist, Tim Keeler, but it still mostly in a similar sound world to the other two pieces.
The choir is Detroit’s Audivi conducted by the composer. It’s a twelve strong group with three singers on each part. Interestingly the alto line is taken by counter tenors. The group has a very integrated sound which works well for this music. The disc was recorded at St. Joseph Church in New Haven and the sound is quite resonant for such a small group. It suits the music but it doesn’t help make the texts any clearer!
All in all this is an interesting and unusual disc suitable for a contemplative moment. It’s available from Navona Records.