Towards the Light - Choral Works of Peter Klatzow

A distinctive voice that blends English choral music with African rhythms

Author: 
Ivan Moody

Towards the Light - Choral Works of Peter Klatzow

  • (3) Spiritual Nocturnes
  • Towards the Light
  • How bright these glorious spirits shine
  • Jesu dulcis memoria
  • Magnificat & Nunc dimittis
  • (A) fisherman's song of praise
  • (The) living flame of love
  • And thou, most kind and gentle Death
  • (3) Motets for the Church Year, 1. O sacrum convivium
  • Prayers and Dances of Praise from Africa

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.

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