I’ve previously enjoyed both choral music and song from Scott Perkins so I was very interested to get hold of a disk of his sacred choral works which is anchored by his A New England Requiem. In the modern fashion this mixes text from the liturgy with poetry from various sources. It’s quite ethereal music and distinctly churchy; more Tavener than Elgar (though really nothing like either)! The theme is definitely “peace and rest”. There’s no Dies irae or anything like that! The scoring is imaginative and good use is made of the organ’s lower ranges. The singing is very beautiful as is the playing which comes from the sixteen players plus organ and twenty six voices of the Da Capo players & Choir with Tom Mueller on the organ and Brett Allan Judson conducting. A soprano soloist from the choir, Jasmine Gish is used in places. She has an almost vibratoless sound which suits nicely.
Whispers of Heavenly Death is a new CD of song settings by Scott Perkins. It’s a generously filled disk with nine works amounting to some 33 tracks. First up are five Walt Whitman poems from the eponymous collection. The settings are sparse but quite varied with legato vocal lines handled nicely by the dark toned mezzo Julia Mintzner. Accompaniment, as on the rest of the disk, is by Eric Trudel.
Six settings from the Holy Sonnets of John Donne follow sung by soprano Jamie Jordan. The music here is spikier and set much higher. It suits Jordan’s light, bright soprano. My favourite tracks are next; four settings of riddles from the Exeter codex sung by baritone Dashon Burton. They are very varied. Ic eom ƿunderlicu ƿiht is jerky and set very high for baritone with arpeggio accompaniment. Moððe ƿord fræt is very rhythmic while Ic ᵹefræᵹn for hæleþum is in a very beautiful, liturgical, vein sounding more medieval than the rest. Ƿrætlic honᵹað gets perhaps the only blues setting an Old English text has ever got! The very short Ƿundor ƿearð on ƿeᵹe is just plain weird. Plenty here for any Old English geek.
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.