The Choir of Trinity College, Melbourne
Christopher Watson, director
Land of Dreams
1. Christe qui lux es et dies (i) (Robert White)
2. The Cloths of Heaven (David Bednall)
3. Come sleep (Daniel Brinsmead)
4. Christe qui lux es et dies (ii) (Robert White)
Ross Edwards, Mass of the Dreaming (Missa Alchera)
9. Agnus Dei
10. Christe qui lux es et dies (iii) (Robert White)
11. Land of Dreams (Daniel Riley)
Solo: Ruby Smith, Daniel Riley
12. Only in Sleep (Ēriks Ešenvalds)
Solo: Phoebe Thomson
13. Christe qui lux es et dies (iv) (Robert White)
14. Holy Dreaming (Alice Chance)
Solo: Phillipa McQuinn, Beatrice Hart, Christopher Roache, Alasdair Stretch
The 16th-century Robert White’s four settings of the Compline hymn ‘Christe qui lux es et dies’ provide a framework for this sequence of 21st-century a cappella works on the theme of sleep and dreaming, inspired by the ‘Dreamtime’ of Australia’s indigenous peoples and their belief in ‘songlines’ that connect sacred places across their vast land. Christopher Watson brought his Australian choir to St John the Evangelist Church, Oxford, for the recording, and his accomplished young singers respond magnificently to its spacious acoustics and their conductor’s unfussy direction. Everything is beautifully balanced, tuned and articulated. The centrepiece is Mass of the Dreaming by Ross Edwards, intentionally Australian in its idiom; the CD also includes works by David Bednall, Daniel Brinsmead, Daniel Riley, Eriks Ešenvalds and Alice Chance. I loved it all.
CLARE STEVENS, CHOIR & ORGAN, December 2019. FIVE STARS
“Your old men will dream dreams and your young men will see visions.” This biblical prophecy takes on varied dimensions in this absorbing disc of sacred and secular choral music, with its multiple intersections of Indigenous and non-Indigenous, ancient and modern. Some of the dreams here come in sleep at day’s end, while others connect with the Dreaming of Australia’s Indigenous peoples, stories that have been told for millennia across the continent.
Four settings of Christe qui lux es et dies by Elizabethan composer, Robert White punctuate a program of otherwise recently composed pieces that allude to dreams or the Dreaming. White sets a hymn from Compline that prays for peace and tranquillity at night, a useful leitmotif that also points to more enduring aspirations.
Alice Chance’s Holy Dreaming is a fervent setting of a prayer by Indigenous Anglican priest, Lenore Parker, praying that Australians may “walk together in trust from the hurt and shame of the past into the full day…” This significant work was commissioned as a companion piece to Mass of the Dreaming (Missa Alchera) by Ross Edwards. With their own repetitive, ritualistic rhythms and elements of dance, both works are choral tours de force to which Trinity’s choristers bring admirable exuberance under the direction of Christopher Watson, a third-generation professional singer and former member of The Tallis Scholars.
The dreams of the young are also ably represented by two emerging Australian composers. Daniel Brinsmead’s Come, Sleep is a lush, award-winning cameo, while Daniel Riley’s Land of Dreams is an atmospheric setting of a Blake text in which Riley’s pleasing voice contributes a solo in this performance.
Works by Englishman, David Bednall (The Cloths of Heaven) and Latvian, Ēriks Ešenvalds (the heart-tugging Only in Sleep) further display the choir’s ability to project a warm, inviting sound.
From a number of perspectives this is an impressive disc; particularly the polyvalent aspects of the programming and the fruits of harnessing young artists to promote a broad artistic and social agenda. The ardour and genuine love of singing displayed here counts for much and signals a capacity for further technical development.
Having had a stint with the choir as an organ scholar over 30 years ago, it is very gratifying to see this group go from strength to strength. May it continue to sing its important dreams into being.
TONY WAY, LIMELIGHT, September 26 2019. DISC OF THE MONTH