Reviews of The Welsh Connection
Church Music Quarterly (March 2014): 2/3 stars - Recommended
The Welsh connections of the title are stronger for some works than others on this interesting disc; but there is no doubting the pedigree of the first track, An Admonition to Rulers by Mathias. In this piece we find the composer at his most acerbic. It is a substantial piece and its performance leaves the listener in no doubt that the Mousai Singers are of a very high calibre. They are just twelve in number and in their late teens/early twenties. Two pieces by Llanelli-born Neil Cox (b. 1955) are featured in their programme and are well worth hearing. Howells’s setting of Antiphon (‘Let all the world in every corner sing’) by the Welsh poet George Herbert is a late work of great richness. Rubbra’s lovely hymn setting St Non’s (‘That virgin’s child’) precedes Leighton’s excellent Awake my glory: a challenging anthem that the Mousai Singers are more than equal to, as is their superb accompanist, Joseph Wicks. There are also pieces by Bax, Parry and W.H. Harris whose Strengthen ye the weak hands is given admirable shape in the musically strong hands of Daniel Cook.
Choir & Organ (March-April 2014) 4/5 stars
An impressive, fresh group of 16 young singers celebrates music and poetry with Welsh connections on this their first CD. The careful direction of Daniel Cook encourages superbly balanced and shaped performances of a capella pieces by Howells, Rubbra (That Virgin's child), Bax and Parry (At the round earth's imagined corners), as well as two pieces by Neil Cox - a lovely motet O Maria, vernans rosa and an atmospheric setting of the Magnificat. Settings by William Mathias, Kenneth Leighton and Sir William Harris are enhanced by Joseph Wicks's sensitive organ accompaniment.
Music-Web International (extract; Full review here)
Nine pieces are given on this CD. Almost all of them are relatively unknown to the musical public -with the possible exception of the Parry. Yet this choice of repertoire is inspirational: each work is stimulating and approachable. The performance of all these pieces is superb: the choir cope admirably with the differing styles of music presented. I look forward to subsequent releases from the Mousai Singers in the near future.