Thomas Walker – tenor
Elin Manahan Thomas – soprano
Rachael Lloyd – mezzo soprano
Exeter Philharmonic Choir, Exeter Cathedral Choir
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Patrick Hawes

Signum Classics SIGCD282 [2012, 60 minutes]

This work combines settings of texts from the Latin Requiem Mass, those where the elements of hope and consolation having been selected, and adaptations of episodes in the New Testament relating to the death and miraculous resurrection of Lazarus.

To quote from the composer’s useful notes, “The sound worlds of the tableaux and the Latin movements are quite different.”   As if to emphasise this still further, two completely different recording locations: the RSNO Centre and Exeter Cathedral were employed.

Three excellent soloists, a semi-chorus and a small, muted instrumental ensemble perform the tableaux.  I found much to admire and enjoy in both the musical setting and performances here, and there would possibly be scope for expanding them into a “stand alone” piece.

I presume there were problems in matching the volume levels of these intimate scenes with the full blown scale of a combined chorus of around 170 voices, a large orchestra and what should surely be reverberant acoustic in Exeter Cathedral.  Instead the sound is remote and few words emerge from a generally rather mushy background – certainly there is nothing in the threat of infernal punishment to disquiet the listener here, nor do the later Hosannas cheer!

So, my enthusiasm for the tableaux is tempered by disappointment with the remainder of the work and I can only give this recording a very qualified recommendation.

Serena Fenwick