In Paradisum

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"These young ladies are every bit as accomplished as most cathedral and Oxbridge choirs".

 The latest Chamber Choir CD was launched in February 2010 on the Regent label.


David Bednall’s atmospheric Requiem is sung here by the schoolgirl choir for whom it was originally composed. Highly reminiscent of Howells’s and Duruflé’s requiems, with its musical evocations of heavenly light, it also sounds captivatingly individual and contemporary. The use of a solo viola, played with beseeching warmth by Dukes, is particularly effective. While one has every right to be dubious of a school choir, the girls’ performances go far beyond the expected standard for a non-specialist music school. It’s beautiful singing, with lovely tone and technique particularly in the upper registers. The soloists are strong.

Classic FM Magazine, May, 2010

Confirming the promise of his 2007 debut – Hail, gladdening Light – David Bednall’s Requiem, his largest piece to date, is a hauntingly beautiful work for high voices sung with well-proportioned, sweet sincerity by the St Mary’s Calne Chamber Choir, and expressively underpinned by the composer on organ and Philip Dukes’s keening, darkly luminous viola. The three coupled anthems let in light with O come let us sing, a re-working of Bednall’s airy setting of Psalm 95, and flex emotional and vocal muscle in the sober Salvator mundi and thumping rhythmic ebullience of an especially rousing take on Let all the world.

Choir and Organ, May 2010

Mixing imagination with musical traditions, David Bednall's recently completed and extensive Requiem is one of the most enjoyable British choral works to have emerged for decades. Avoiding modern atonality, it is a score that challenges singers and fascinates the ear. The accompaniment for viola and organ is so skilfully deployed you feel it is a chamber orchestra. The girls from the Wiltshire school of St Mary's, Calne, are superb by any standard and Bednall's organ playing is thrilling.

Yorkshire Post, 26th March 2010

Bednall’s Requiem has intended echoes of Fauré and Duruflé, but with a wider emotional range, the solo viola accompaniment adding a dark, keening edge, while the organ in the Domine Jesu Christe and instrumental Communion Interlude drag the mood towards grief. But the underlying mood is optimistic and the work – along with the other three on the disc – rewards performers and listener with its mellifluous luminosity. The choir of women’s voices performs with polish and panache.

Classical Music Magazine (Recording of the Fortnight – 4 stars), 13th March 2010

 David Bednall is another composer who has picked up the tradition of Howells and takes it towards new horizons, in this case mingled with twentieth-century French harmonies and timbres. It is frequently restless music, searching and striving, not least in the uneasy ‘Libera me’. But the following ‘In paradisum’ is all the more of a contrast as the vocal ‘chorus angelorum’ is led by solo viola to eternal light and peace. The musical techniques used are traditional but applied with skill and an emotional sincerity that results in a disturbing and rewarding piece. The Chamber Choir of St Mary’s Calne, 43 girls between 14 and 18, should be hugely proud of the vivid sound and mature musicianship they display.

Judith Markwith, Church Music Quarterly, 1st March 2010

The Prelude to David Bednall's Requiem features the internationally-renowned viola player Philip Dukes and sets the scene in a suitably atmospheric manner, reminding us somewhat of Tavener's "Protecting Veil" played in a higher register. The piece continues at the top end, so to speak, by using The Chamber Choir of St Mary's Calne which is an all-girl ensemble. Soloists are Miriam Thiede in "Domine Jesu Christe" and Rebecca Rothwell in "Pie Jesu". Neither disappoints. David Bednall, who is also the featured organist on this recording, writes beautiful melodies which, for this reviewer, are stronger than his choral writing. This is not to criticise the choir, which sings well throughout, but merely an observation which is borne out in the instrumental "Communion - Interlude". One would not wish to appear to patronise the choir by pointing out that it is a school choir and so, perhaps, the composer did not want to over extend himself. Be assured that these young ladies are every bit as accomplished as most cathedral and Oxbridge choirs. Perhaps instead we should go back to our opening remarks and look at this as having a sacred simplicity such as we would find in Tavener or Pärt. I enjoyed it very much. The CD concludes with three shorter choral works: "O Come Let Us Sing", "Salvator Mundi", and "Let All The World". All three would make welcome additions to any choir's repertoire and we hope and expect to hear much more from composer and choir in the future.

Steven Whitehead, Cross Rhythms Website, 28th January 2010

Since his appointment as Organ Scholar at Gloucester Cathedral in 2000, Mr. Bednall has impressed widely through his playing and composing. This Requiem (an expanded version of a Missa Brevis from 2007, with new movements including viola/organ interludes) is poignant and thoughtful, and the exquisite performance by the St. Mary's girls (middle-school and high-school ages, singing with a notable unity of pitch and ensemble) is equally notable. Search this one out!

Minnesota Public Radio, 28th January 2010

I wanted to say, straightaway, how moved I was by your marvellous setting of the Requiem. I think it’s fabulous – very well sung, your organ playing fantastic, and of course Philip Dukes’ amazing contribution. I’m sure the recording will do extremely well.

David Briggs (Organist Emeritus, Gloucester Cathedral), 15th January 2010

Thank you so much for sending the requiem. I listened to it in the car driving away to Christmas and was spellbound. What a wonderful thing to have commissioned and recorded. You must be incredibly proud. I will spread the word of the wonderful work you are all doing.

Phyllida Lloyd (Director of Mamma Mia! The Movie), 13th January 2010

Thank you so much for sending me the excellent David Bednall CD. You and the girls are quite right to be thrilled with it!

Sir Tim Rice, 12th January 2010

Your CD arrived today, and I absolutely love it. The whole organ/viola thing works so well, and the writing for the voices is rich, original, singular, eclectic and frankly just very good indeed. I have to say I'm rather blown away by it all. (I have listened four times today already.) Without doubt one of my top CDs of 2009. Which I wasn't expecting! (As a complete Messiaen organ music gimp, this is pressing all my buttons, I must say.)
I wholeheartedly salute you.

Seb Hunter (Author of Rock Me Amadeus) 10th December 2009