Danse Macabre Opus 40 Camille Saint-Saens Download 'Danse Macabre Opus 40' on iTunes
Classic FM Album of the Week, starting Monday 27 July 2015 after 10am
This soul-stirring collection traces how the so-called 'ecstatic style' of choral music has evolved from its beginnings in the U.S.A. in the 1940s to the present day, when such composers as Morten Lauridsen, Eric Whitacre and Paul Mealor have works featuring regularly in the Classic FM Hall of Fame.
There are works here from the major American composers, including Lauridsen and Whitacre, as well as established British composers who have brought their brand of spirituality to contemporary music, such as John Tavener and James MacMillian.
There's also a fascinating and beautiful early British example of the ecstatic style in William Harris's sublime double-choir anthem, Bring us, O Lord God.
Younger British composers are also well represented here with premiere recordings, including a new work especially written for the album by Phillip Cooke - The Eternal Ecstasy setting words by Saint Teresa of Avila (see video below).
The music is as timeless, spacious, and rapturous as you would hope for. The performances by the choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge are sublime, and the recording captures them in all their glory, helped by the incomparable acoustics of the Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral.