How Like a golden dream
My Lagan Love
'Tis now dead night
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The repertoire on How Like a Golden Dream traverses the sacred and the secular; 17th-century hymns and antiphons from the Office of Hours, sung at Vespers and Compline in monasteries and Irish folk songs influenced by Celtic missionaries. Throughout, the luminous soprano of Sinéad White illuminates the long shadows of dusk and night. Jonathan Stuchbery adds energizing precision. With both lute and theorbo he serves White with silvery gusts of harmonic colours.
Familiar melodies such as ‘Tis now dead night by John Corprario, Come, Heavy Sleep by John Dowland and Never weather-beaten sail by Thomas Campion are made to float weightlessly by White. Meanwhile Stuchbery weaves his instruments in and out turning poetic lines into a sort of diaphanous harmonic quilt that quiets the imaginary fears of the night. Louise Hung’s glorious textures on the organ are subtly, yet appropriately expressive when added to the music.
The plaintive sound world of sacred and secular polyphony not only evokes a sense of wistful melancholy, but also lifts the listener from grief and sadness to unfettered joy and hope of salvation in the celestial realm. This is superbly evoked by two closing hymns by Francesca Cassini: Te lucis ante terminum and the deeply expressive Regina Caeli. Booklet notes with richly referential song-by-song English and French commentary by Jill Rafuse and Pierre Igot deserve special mention as part of the excellence of this production.