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Commissioned by the enterprising Presteigne Festival

The Heavens and the Heart

Classical Ear, Michael Quinn

This first recording of choral and orchestral music by James Francis Brown (b.1969) confirms the promise of his debut collection of chamber works on Guild in 2011. There’s much to enjoy here in music of crafted, refined eloquence and obvious kinship with Vaughan Williams at his most lyrical and elegant while retaining its own, articulate identity.

All three featured works were commissioned by the enterprising Presteigne Festival on the English-Welsh border and are led by the commendably light-fingered but sure-footed approach of its artistic director George Vass.

The Trio Concertante (2006) for violin (Benjamin Nabarro), viola (Rachel Roberts), cello (Gemma Rosefield) and string orchestra is a thing of pastoral delicacy and delight. Catriona Scott is an evocative advocate for the Norfolk-inspired Clarinet Concerto (2008), which is animated and affecting in its innocent buoyancy and yearning prettiness. Setting three psalms for choir and orchestra, the title track (2016) rings out with refulgent brio, burnished melodies, vivid drama and winning joyfulness. More please!

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