In Sorrow’s Footsteps
The Marian Consort, Rory McCleery
Celebrating its tenth anniversary with its tenth recording on Delphian, The Marian Consort plays to its twin strengths in a lovingly conceived programme coupling two pillars of Renaissance polyphony with twenty-first-century settings of the same texts, including a newly commissioned Stabat Mater by Gabriel Jackson. A range of subplots – Palestrina’s influence on Wagner, Charles Burney’s collecting of Allegri and Palestrina – make this truly a story of interconnections: a path on which the present’s footsteps constantly overlay the past’s. At the centre is Allegri’s Miserere, whose convoluted reception history itself becomes part of the story and whose performance here fully exploits the world-famous acoustic of Merton College’s chapel.
"Carefully paced and shaped by the group’s director Rory McCleery, this [Gabriel Jackson's Stabat Mater] feels like a modern classic in the making, sensitive and endlessly responsive to the text."
"The past and the present move hand-in-hand in this well-devised programme. Gabriel Jackson’s setting of the Stabat Mater is startling in its concept ... The Marian Consort is an exceptional group. Here you can savour beautiful vocal lines that are given wonderfully controlled, electrifying performances."
"The Marian Consort’s singing is never less than polished and beautifully crafted … the opening account of Gabriel Jackson’s declamatory Stabat Mater was enough to make this Renaissance-attuned reviewer spill his coffee!"
"The music is at one and the same time firmly rooted in the past yet also resolutely of the present day. It receives an outstanding performance from The Marian Consort. Whether in the Renaissance music or the two contemporary pieces these gifted musicians sing not just with poise and great accomplishment but also with sensitivity; they communicate the music expertly … this outstanding disc is the best thing they’ve yet done. As such, it’s a splendid celebration of ten years of music-making."
"Tradition rears its head in many forms in this exquisite a cappella recording by the compact but wholesomely radiant Marian Consort ... there is an alluring, sometimes intoxicating equilibrium about this disc, regulated by the pure-toned intimacy and blend of Rory McCleery’s fine ensemble. The British sacred choral tradition at its best."
"The sharp, jabbing gestures at the opening of Gabriel Jackson’s new setting of the Stabat Mater …announce that wilting introspection is by no means the composer’s default position in his response to the sorrowful vision of Mary witnessing her son’s crucifixion … The ten singers of The Marian Consort buy fully into Jackson’s immersive setting, their interactions at times possessing the immediacy of chamber opera."