Choirs of Saint Mary Magdalene; Stephanie Martin
Independent SJM 008 (www.cdbaby.com/cd/martinstephanie)
The Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Toronto has long been renowned for the music gracing its services and beyond since the time of famed composer, organist and choirmaster Healey Willan who served at the church from 1921-1968. The latest musician to occupy the Director of Music chair once again offers a repertoire uniquely suited to this most excellent sanctuary of faith, inspiration and artistry. Indeed, suiting the history of this church, much of Stephanie Martin’s music is reminiscent of her predecessor in style and colour, with its free-flowing textures and atmospheric harmonization combined with liberal measures of plainchant. The anthems and mass settings are largely unaccompanied but there are a couple of exceptions such as the lovely arrangements for winds in God so loved the world and the organ taking its rightful place in In Magdelene nomine. Rather than exuberant, the title track Alleluia is soft and sweet with voicings beautiful, serene and sublime. The choir under Martin’s direction performs as a unified and interconnected whole, with the clarity and tonal perfection required for these sensitive and graceful forms. Listening to this recording will inspire many to attend a live service at St. Mary Magdalene while providing an excellent glimpse for those who may never have the opportunity.