G JACKSON Vox Clara
This generously filled disc contains no fewer than eight premiere recordings among its 22 tracks. They reveal that Gabriel Jackson (b1962) continues to produce sacred choral music of the highest invention, responding to commissions with vivid panache. His music can – in an instant – switch from richly layered ecstasy to direct, hushed intimacy, for example in the anthem Cantate Domino.
It helps, of course, that as a former cathedral chorister he knows what makes singers tick. The most recent fruit of his long association with Truro Cathedral Choir is the stunning Kipling setting That wind blowing and that tide (2015), a First World War commemoration composed in collaboration with the boy choristers. Here, Jackson’s trademark ‘organic succession’ of ideas guides the listener with such a poignant ebb and flow that one can palpably sense the gently drifting fog of the Western Front. The boys also make the most of what Jackson terms their ‘aleatoric rushing wind’ in the Pentecostal motet Factus est repente, as well as the highly effective whispered mutterings of ‘those who dwell in darkness’ in the fourth Advent Antiphon (‘O clavis David’). With its compact dimensions, the Truro Mass is clearly redolent of the Tudor masters Byrd and Tye, now passed through the austere filter of Stravinsky.
High praise, too, for organist Luke Bond, who soothes with the heart-stoppingly gorgeous chorale prelude on Herzliebster Jesu and accompanies saxophonist Joel Garthwaite with acute sensitivity in the Aria for Joel and Vicki. Garthwaite features variously on soprano, alto and tenor saxes, enhancing the Kipling piece and the disc’s title-track.
With engaging and enlightening notes by the composer and superb engineering and production by Gary Cole, this glorious release is unbeatable.