Dan Locklair: Gloria (CR033)
Review by Cross Rhythms
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This CD brings together pieces composed with texts that come from across the liturgical year by the American composer Dan Locklair (born 1949) and performed with great aplomb by various combinations of the Oxford choir Sospiri, conducted by Christopher Watson, and Winchester College Chapel Choir and the Portsmouth Grammar School Chamber Choir under Malcolm Archer. The works represent the style of Locklair’s vocal music and show his skill and imagination in settings for a cappella choir, pieces for voices with organ accompaniment, and the central work “Gloria” with large choral forces, brass octet and percussion. We open with an appropriately quiet and reflective “Lord Jesus, Think On Me” followed by three “Isaiah Canticles”. All are tuneful and while they are easy to listen to I suspect that only the more confident choirs will be able to do them justice. To the composer and performers’ credit it should be noted that the words are clearly audible throughout. The title track, “Gloria” dominates the CD, running as it does to almost quarter of an hour. Here we move to the familiar Latin text – still easily heard – and now the music bursts into life. There is, I confess, a point about four minutes in where three notes ascend and then descend where I heard in my mind’s ear the familiar words “underground, overground” but then we hear a snatch of saints marching in followed by the proverbial kitchen sink (well, not quite but you get the idea). The whole is great fun and greatly exhilarating and I would love to be part of a choir that sings it. From the extreme complexity of the adept contrapuntal writing in “Gloria”, to the simplicity of the restful “The Lord Bless You And Keep You” with its unison declamations, there is a common trait: the compositions are a personal and expressive response to the texts, being set with care, vision and with faith. Repeated listening deepens our appreciation of Dan Locklair’s considerable compositional gifts, and also our own understanding of the texts themselves.
Steven Whitehead, for Cross Rhythms, 30th August 2016
Cross Rhythms was started by Chris and Kerry Cole over 30 years ago. They saw that a media voice for the Christian faith was vital to get the Christian response to society’s ills back into the marketplace of everyday lives.
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