Towards the Light - Choral Works of Peter Klatzow
The music of South African composer Peter Klatzow (b1945) was unknown to me before hearing this disc but I am very glad to have made its acquaintance. Klatzow’s voice is a distinctive one, with something of the English choral tradition certainly to be felt in it (he was a pupil of Bernard Stevens and Gordon Jacob, and later of Nadia Boulanger) but also a very strong African quality. This is reflected not only in his choice of texts (the Three Spiritual Nocturnes, for example, all use African texts), but also, I think, in his luminous sonorities and, in the case of Prayers and Dances of Praise from Africa, rhythm and timbre, in the use of a marimba duet. The marimba is also used, together with the organ and wordless double choir, in the remarkable Towards the Light, a 12-minute ‘slow burn’ written in 2003. This is in many ways the highlight of the disc, but the breadth of this survey is such that one has a good idea of the variety and richness of Klatzow’s writing.
There are also two pieces by former pupils, Robert Fokkens and Martin Watt, which attest to Klatzow’s skills as a teacher. All of the music is splendidly performed; Commotio have a timbre of creamy richness and seamless blend, and recording quality is excellent. I urge anyone interested in contemporary choral music to try this.