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Ivo Antognini - Choral works - North East Post

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“As soon as the first notes are sung on this highly accessible album, it immediately captures the attention of the listener, not just from a performance point of view but in showcasing a composer who has a consummate elegance in his compositional writing.

60-year-old Swiss composer Ivo Antognini studied at the Swiss Jazz School in Bern and spent his early career composing for television and film. In 2006 he met the world-class children’s choir Coro Calicantus under the direction of Mario Fontana and since then he has devoted his creative efforts largely to the composition of choral works.

Paul Conway’s excellent notes give the background behind each piece. The short works are superbly crafted as Antognini has a knack of lifting the words off the page through excellent techniques and wonderful harmonies to drive his music.

The opening track, in which Antognini sets Echo by Christina Rossetti, is mesmerising, setting the scene for 65 minutes of glorious music and superlative singing from Stephen Layton’s Trinity College Choir, Cambridge. It was voted the fifth-best choir in the world in Gramophone magazine’s ’20 Greatest Choirs’; this recording should propel it higher up the list.

The resonant basses, the fusion of upper and lower voices blending with such control coupled with superb diction and phrasing is a lesson in the beauty and power of the human voice. Each piece is sung a cappella with a warmth and magical beauty where the spiritual and transcendental nature of the works descends upon the listener with a breadth and mellifluent power.

Antognini’s writing for tenors and basses is particularly impressive as is the way Layton’s singers deliver each piece with meticulous care and panache.

Some people may see the CD cover and think Ivo Antognini who? Then leave it to one side. That would be a mistake. If you enjoy choral music this album has many highlights. I am grateful to Layton and the Trinity College Choir for providing the platform to feature Ivo Antognini’s wonderful compositions and I would urge secular and sacred choir directors to explore these approachable compositions.

Outstanding performances and marvellous works.

Andrew Palmer

Ivo Antognini - Choral works
Hyperion Records CDA68425