Paul Riley: Classic CD
April 1998 CD Review
Xenakis choral works: Hyperion CDA66980

James Wood directs virtuosic performances by his New London Chamber Choir in extraodinarily expressive modern masterpieces.

Anyone lucky enough to have caught the New London Chamber Choir at last year's Bath Festival will know instantly that this is a "must have" disc. On that occasion their performance of Serment brought the audience cheering to its feet, excited both by the virtuoso score and by the high octane virtuoso singing.
Remarkably, with the exception of the searing reverberative Nuits, nothing else on James Wood's exactingly prepared disc is currently available. It would be hard, though, to imagine rival performances approaching the passionate commitment and technical prowess brought to bear as the choir energetically plunges into the kaleidoscopic vocal effects of the wordless Nuits and its gritty compliment, Knephas. Prepare to be pinned back in the chair, grateful for the statuesque rituals of A colone, here beautifully sprung with bright peppery alto solos and very precisely realised instrumental support - in turn savage for the sombre and barbarous passages of Medea. Quite simply magnificent. Overwhelming. Buy it!