A lovely review of the Fitzwilliam Service

From Jason Overall’s review of the first releases in Selah Press’ Sarah MacDonald Choral Series:

‘This setting of the evening canticles quickly establishes an imaginative, adventurous compositional voice. Cattley’s harmonic language is comfortable in ambiguity, and many phrases attain a weightless feel that has little tonal gravity. Despite this lack of strong pitch center, the music is never harsh or dissonant. Vocal lines are mainly diatonic and even conventional, even as the accompaniment undermines some expected harmonic implications. Of even more interest, however, is the complex rhythmic organization. Cattley contrasts 6/8 organization against 3/4, employing creative use of hemiola, and she explores unconventional beat subdivisions. These rhythmic hijinks will challenge singers, yet they infuse the music with a spirited vitality that is nothing short of bewitching. The Magnificat is written for two-voice choir with only a handful of divided notes in the lower voice, while the Nunc dimittis is cast more consistently in three voices. Where the first canticle dances, the second one sings lyrically. Expansive lines that outline wide intervals gain intensity from a similar rhythmic intricacy, yet restrained within a gentle pacing. Whereas the first Gloria Patri exults, ending fortissimo, the concluding Gloria Patri maintains the expressive flow of the preceding canticle. The organ part throughout is interesting, affording players ample opportunities for interesting solo colors, and of only moderate technical difficulty. This extremely effective service will be useful for adults and children, and while it may require some careful rehearsal, choirs are sure to welcome it into their evensong repertoire.’

Jason Overall
The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians
Volume 29, Number 3 – March 2020

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