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Da Vinci Requiem : CD Reviews

Recording session.  Click to enlarge.   Photo courtesy of Signum Records.

Cecilia McDowall’s Da Vinci Requiem, commissioned by Wimbledon Choral, received its world premiere in the Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday 7th May 2019.  Read more details about this on this other page

After two postponements due to the Covid pandemic, the recording of the work took place finally on 22nd February 2022 in St Augustine's Church, Kilburn.   We were fortunate that both soloists, Kate Royal & Roderick Williams, were available to do this but sadly the Philharmonia Orchestra could not be with us.  Instead we had the splendid City of London Sinfonia as the accompanying orchestra and a fine job they did too.

The recording was released in full on both CD and via streaming platforms on 7th April 2023.   The following reviews have been written about it.   Needless to say, we are rather pleased with the results.

 "... the superb Wimbledon Choral ...

It is a work that is badly-needed at the present time: I have no doubt that, in its direct and compelling language, able to be grasped immediately by any music-loving listener, McDowall's
Da Vinci Requiem is a masterpiece. The performance here is compelling, and it surely earned the composer's total approval."
Robert Matthew-Walker, The Organ
"Wimbledon Choral, one of the most enterprising amateur choirs in south-east England, acquit themselves with aplomb in the Requiem, with Neil Ferris drawing from them a well-focused sound."
Philip Reed, Choir & Organ

"Neil Ferris, sein Chor, die beiden sehr guten Solisten und die City of London Sinfonia liefern von diesem Requiem eine packende Darstellung, die in einer exzellenten Tonaufnahme alles hat, um wirkungsvoll und, ja, unvergesslich zu werden.

Neil Ferris, his chorus, the two very fine soloists and the City of London Sinfonia deliver a gripping performance of this Requiem which, in an excellent recording, has everything it takes to be effective and, yes, memorable."
Remy Franck, Pizzicato (Luxembourg)
 "The Wimbledon Choral, for whom it was written, are impressive with clear lines and luminous hush under soprano Kate Royal ... in the beautiful Agnus Dei movement."
Christopher Dingle, BBC Music Magazine
 "The performances by the Wimbledon Choral and the City of London Sinfonia, with a trio of fine soloists led by baritone Roderick Williams, are clear and warm."
James Manheim, AllMusic
"The album is performed by the commissioning choir and hats off to it for championing this piece.   [It] leaps out as a perfect vehicle for Wimbledon Choral to show what it can do; it’s musically engaging but also, I reckon, a lot of fun to sing.   The whole thing is beautifully paced by Neil Ferris."
Bernard Hughes, the artsdesk.com
"I have been very impressed by Da Vinci Requiem. ... ... Wimbledon Choral were determined to show their commission in the best possible light and they did so with excellent, disciplined and highly committed singing."
"I think that providing the stimulus for a significant addition to the repertoire is in itself really laudable.  By bringing about this splendid recording of the new work, they have contributed further by bringing Da Vinci Requiem to the attention of a wider public.   One hopes [it] will encourage further performances of this important new work."   
"The musicianship on show from the Wimbledon Choral, an outstanding amateur choir with a long history, ... is of the highest standard.   The Da Vinci Requiem is well worth hearing.   McDowall has written something that works on many levels and which will repay repeated listens."
Steven Whitehead, Cross Rhythms

World Premiere Concert - Press Reviews

"Cecilia McDowall’s Da Vinci Requiem, given its world premiere by the impressive Wimbledon Choral Society, skilfully interweaves the text for The Mass for the Dead with various writings of or about the great Renaissance man.  ....  The result is a powerfully communicative addition to the repertoire."
Barry Millington, Evening Standard
"Directed by Neil Ferris, Wimbledon Choral Society make a lovely sound – clean, clear and bright. The uninhibited expressivity of those who sing for pleasure with no payment is distinct from the polished virtuosity of the professional choir. Scan the faces of the singers, here more than 200, and all you see is pride and excitement [and] a sense of investment and ownership [that] was justified in this concert."
Anna Picard, The Times
"McDowall’s strength has always rested in her ability to write for a chorus, and here the Wimbledon Choral Society were magnificent. Nothing seemed out of place – the women angelic, the men monastic – the intonation and timing exquisite. Neil Ferris controlled the chorus, soloists and Philharmonia impeccably."
Marc Bridle, Opera Today
"... one of the most substantial and formidable choirs in London ... a vigorous and sophisticated choral ensemble. .... a tribute to the composer and [to] the flair and imagination of the choir that commissioned it and poured life into it so admirably and intelligently."
Roderic Dunnett, Church Times
Posted: 12:07:26 - 14/05/2023

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