THE ARMOUR OF LIGHT
THE CHORAL MUSIC OF GARY DAVISON
WELLS CATHEDRAL CHOIR ∙ MATTHEW OWENS
Jonathan Vaughn organ, Matthew Souter viola, Simon Jones trumpet
Steeped in the rich Anglican choral tradition, American composer, Gary Davison, is one of the US’s leading composers of sacred choral music. He brings a deep love of this heritage to all of his writing. Through the lens of the post-modern era, he embraces many of the modal and tonal techniques of Western music to inform his own artistry. Performers and audiences alike admire his compositional style for its idiomatic expression and freshness of voice. Critical acclaim supports this esteem with such descriptions of his work as “persuasive ... imaginative and polished ... sumptuous and engaging” (The Washington Post); “seductive and spirited ... smooth, flexible and clear, allowing the music to shine from within” (Hamburger Abendblatt, Germany); as well as “breathtaking and exquisite ... exactly the kind of rewarding challenge singers love best.” The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians.
‘the pieces are very accessible and I’m sure will appeal to choirs and congregations alike, which is surely what Gary Davison intended: this is music written for practical use in the liturgy. His music is given splendid advocacy by Matthew Owens and his fine choir – one would expect nothing less – and Jonathan Vaughn makes an expert contribution at the organ’ MusicWeb October 2015
'Matthew Owens is second to none in his championing of living composers. Here with the girl choristers and Vicars Choral of Wells Cathedral, he introduces us to the music of American composer Gary Davison...Davison’s greatest strength is a deep understanding of a sacred text, which informs his writing...There is an uncluttered, harmonic appeal to his writing...This distinguished cathedral choir is in excellent voice, enhanced by the creative playing of Jonathan Vaughn.’
Choir and Organ November/December 2015
‘Gary Davison is an American composer influenced by that tradition (the Anglican choral tradition)—in particular, the choral tradition at Wells Cathedral. The choir is a blend of girls, countertenors, tenors, and basses; it performs this music in an exemplary manner. Sonics are good on all these releases.’
American Record Guide November 2015
Gary Davison is Organist and Choirmaster of Saint Francis Episcopal Church in Potomac, Maryland, and maintains an active schedule as a solo and collaborative keyboard artist, and particularly enjoys a close musical relationship as a composer with Wells Cathedral.
This is the first recoding entirely devoted to Gary Davison’s choral music, and is sung by the renowned choir of Wells Cathedral, conducted by Matthew Owens. All the works are receiving their first commercial recording.
This is Wells Cathedral Choir’s sixth recording on the Regent Records’ label, and previous releases have all received superlative critical acclaim.
‘Overall a very polished recording of some beautiful music. The singing was excellent...’
Sydney Organ Journal Spring 2015
Since he first visited Wells nine years ago the American composer Gary Davison has had a special relationship with the cathedral and its singers, who deliver now the first CD completely devoted to his music. Davison is a choirmaster himself, and it shows in the user-friendliness of his writing: the glowing harmonies and grateful melodies of My Song Shall be Always are clearly relished by the girl choristers in particular.
The influence of John Tavener is discernible in the drone-like foundation material in The Armour of Light, but the piece develops a voice of its own. with evocative use of a semi-chorus, touchingly realised here by the small group of selected singers. The compact Banffshire Mass, an unaccompanied setting, tests both the choirs pitching and its ability to keep ensemble tight as text is zipped though briskly by the composer. Both tests are confidently negotiated.
The moody chiaroscuro of Davison’s Te Deum, and its moments of surging drama, arc impressively projected, and the Nunc dimittis from Palace Garden Canticles, with ringing trumpet, burgeons thrillingly. There is much substantial music on this disc, all of it realized with unflappable distinction by Matthew Owens and his singers.'
BBC Music October 2015
‘The Wells Cathedral Choir are in world-class form here… This is immensely inspired writing... magnificently captured in this superlative recording.’
REGCD320 Gramophone Editor’s Choice May 2007
‘The overall choral sound is wonderfully blended and must rank as one of the top cathedral sounds outside London.’ REGCD247 BBC Music Magazine March 2007
1 My song shall be alway 3:21
2 Zion, at thy shining gates 2:54
3 The Armour of Light 7:15
4 Easter 4:07
5 Kyrie eleison 1:28
6 Gloria in excelsis 3:02
7 Sanctus and Benedictus 1:44
8 Agnus Dei 2:10
The Wells Service
9 Te Deum 7:54
10 Jubilate Deo 2:40
11 Trumpet Rondo on ‘Laudes Domini 3:24
12 Sing, my soul, his wondrous love WEDMORE 77.77] 2:30
13 O Lord, support us 3:28
14 Never weather-beaten sail 4:10
The Santa Fe Canticles
15 Magnificat 4:31
16 Nunc dimittis 2:34
17 The Lord is my light 3:51
Palace Garden Canticles
18 Magnificat† 5:26
19 Nunc dimittis† 3:21
20 Glory to thee, my God, this night 6:34
All first recordings except track 2
Total Playing time: 76:30