This is an excellent CD. I knew that from the opening Introit and Kyrie Eleison. Locklair’s music is lush, melodic and mellifluous, harking back to the first half of the 20th century in its voice yet distinctive in its approach to rhythm and structure, as well as the dramatic word setting. The work is a worthy addition to the repertoire. The first 45 minutes of the disc comprise the Requiem, completed in its final form in 2015. The nine movements alternate chorus and organ-accompanied solo movements, three of which use “non-traditional … texts of comfort and assurance from Biblical scripture’. The combination of Royal Holloway’s exceptional choir with orchestra, organ, and soloists is impressive, and Rupert Gough and Convivium Records are to be congratulated on a first-rate recording. Martin Baker’s playing deserves particular praise, as does Geoff Williams’s rendition of movement 6. I am the Resurrection.
The second part of the CD showcases a range of Locklair’s other sacred music. ‘Comfort ye my people’ is a moving a cappella work for divided SATB choir and accompaniment; Calm on the listening ear of night for choir and organ, using a Christmas text by Edmund Sears, is a delight, made so by Baker’s playing, and a fine organ! O light of light, dedicated to Robert Gough, receives its world première on the CD, along with The Mystery of God, dedicated to Malcolm Archer. Arise in Beauty, from 2009, sets words by Angier Brock in an invocation of The Book of Common Prayer and scripture. The programme is completed by the Montreal evening canticles. All this repertoire demonstrates the composer’s vigour and versatility perfectly. It is good that the sleeve notes are by Locklair himself. They add much to this excellent recording. It is one of the best I have reviewed for some time!