Melbourne-born Jonathan David Little is currently Professor of Music Composition and Music History at the University of Chichester. His combined interests find expression in his eclectic compositional style, which has been variously described (according to the booklet) as “archaic futurism”, “ecstatic minimalism” and “picturesque archaism”. Little has been particularly influenced by the polychoral writing of the late Renaissance, which he blends with the often blurred, slow-moving harmonic architecture of minimalism. This style is further enhanced by resonant acoustics and an often high vocal tessitura to create a sense of the other-worldly.

This programme features sacred and secular works with performers from America (Vox Futura, Boston and The Stanbery Singers, Cincinnati) and England (The Thomas Tallis Society Choir, London). The most substantial piece is Woefully Arrayed, a 25-minute setting of an early Passiontide poem, in which the verse-refrain structure allows for the alternation of varying textures and an effective, cumulative build-up of ecstatic utterances. Other works here rely on often insistently high soprano parts which are handled with varying degrees of success by the singers.

While this is carefully crafted and considered music, your ultimate level of enjoyment will depend on how much musical stasis you can take; whether it be in the area of harmony, texture or register.

Composer: Jonathan David Little
Composition: Choral and polychoral works
Performer: Heinrich Christensen o, Vox Futura, Thomas Tallis Society Choir, The Stanbery Singers, Andrew Shenton, Philip Simms, Paul John Stanbery
Catalogue Number: Navona Records NV6113

Contribute to Limelight and support independent arts journalism.