CR056 Ave Generosa

Margaret Rizza: Ave Generosa (CR056)

Review by Christopher Maxim, Organists’ Review

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Most of this disc was recorded in 2020, but four tracks have been taken from the 2010 Naxos CD recorded in a different location. While this might have potentially have been detrimental to the sense of artistic unity, thanks to the earlier ensemble being larger and there being some overlap of personnel, it is rather more as if the additional singers are performing certain pieces. In addition, whereas all the 2020 items are a cappella, three out of the four from 2010 are accompanied, further masking the differences between the two groups.

Margaret Rizza’s featured music is largely meditative in style. This is born of modality, rhythmic plasticity and often rather slow harmonic rhythm. Such a musical language blends well with the plainsong melodies that are sometimes heard alongside – and even within – the varied choral textures. Diatonic dissonance is exploited skilfully to imbue the music with intensity: variously caressing matching and amplifying the texts.

Space does not permit a commentary on each of the tracks, nor would it be especially illuminating given the overall stylistic homogeny of the music. Nethertheless, some highlights are worthy of mention. The piece from which the disc takes its title (Ave Generosa) is the sole unaccompanied item from 2010. It is an especially good example of Rizza’s work, ending in a glorious blaze of sound-colour. Of the 2020 pieces, I particularly enjoyed the December chilliness of the second two ‘Advent O’ settings (O Clavis David and O Oriens). The unison singing of the men and then of the whole choir at the start of the opening item (Veni Jesu) is a good example of the excellent pitch precision, blend and shaping achieved throughout. Under the skilful direction of Eamonn Dougan the performers are expressive yet never over-cooked.

Christopher Maxim, Organists’ Review, November 2020

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