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Church Times 'In Paradisum' Review of Marian Consort's Merton Festival Concert 27/03/15

Church Times 'In Paradisum' Review of Marian Consort's Merton Festival Concert 27/03/15

'In Paradisum', (with) a wonderfully conceived three part structure. was the revelation of the evening..  Levy's anthem is (an) extended, richly inventive setting of the Lux Aeterna and In Paradisum of the requiem mass, enfolding a setting of two lines from Broken Vessels (1991) by the American storywriter Andre Dubu II (1936-99).  Part o the impact of Levy's work is the forces deployed: vocal consort, larger choir, and unison children's choir, who also contribute, poignantly, to the superb swell and build-up near the close.

The opting consists of gentle hissing or susurrations, not sinister but alluring, like shingle on a shore, then wind in the leaves; mysterious slidings and subtly intruded trillings prolong the atmosphere, all the forces beautifully stylised, thanks to Benjamin Nichol\s acute conducting.

The scintillating outburst at "lux perpetua", led in by alton then soprano, was a high point for the excellent tenors:; while near the clos, "Quia pius es", with the words lightly broken up, perhaps owed something, appropriately, to the pure techniques of Part.

The children's section, "We receive and we lose, and we must try to achieve gratitude...", was sung to perfection, thanks to perfuct tuning and tender responses from the full choir.

The In Paradisum is intentionally simpler than the first part, but not without invention: altos shining through the textures; the plaintive setting of "civitatem sanctam Jerusalem"; an appealing element of dance; and the superb enunciation of all cluminating climactically at "Chorus Angelorum te suscipiat."

Levy's work is packed with originality and imagination.  It was worth hearing this memorable Merton concert for this alone.

Roderic Dunnett