Rise up, my love – Choral works by Howard Skempton, Gabriel Jackson, Pēteris Vasks and Eric Whitacre

Reviewed on Wed 18 Mar, 2015

Formed in 2011, the Irish Youth Chamber Choir under director Greg Beardsell has been steadily positioning itself as a flagship for imaginative programming and quality performances. As a marker of the still infant ensemble’s abilities, this first recording – a 22-minute-long EP – serves as a musical calling card of consummate elegance. Howard Skempton’s titular Rise up, my love forms the centrepiece, the mixed-voice choir sensitively attuned to both its luminous beauty and the darker, bass-heavy accent of the second of its four anthems. A few wobbles in higher registers aside, Gabriel Jackson’s I gaze upon you shows off the choir’s richly textured composite voice and alert reciprocity. Those high voices redeem themselves in the challenging oscillations of Pēteris Vasks’s effulgent Māte saule (Mother Sun), while Eric Whitacre’s delicate A Boy and a Girl is delivered with bewitching tenderness. A lack of notes and barely legible text do little to diminish the beauties on offer.
–Michael Quinn