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SIG 078
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SIG 078

Talbot - Path of Miracles

The Classical Shop
release date: May 2007

Originally recorded in 2007


Nigel Short



All Hallows Church, Gospel Oak, London

8-11 Jul 2005


Gabriel Crouch


Limo Hearn

Record Label



Total Time - 62:23
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Path of Miracles, for a cappella choir, was commissioned by Tenebrae from Joby Talbot and premiered last year. The work is based on the most enduring route of Catholic pilgrimage - the great Pilgramage to Santiago. The four movements of Path of Miracles are titled with the names of the four main staging posts of the ’Camino Frances’:

I Roncesvalles

II Burgos

III Leon

IV Santiago

The ’Camino Frances’ s the central axis of a network of pilgrimage routes to Santiago. Talbot’s music has been performed by, amongst others, the London Sinfonietta, The BBC Symphony Orchestra, The Brunel Ensemble, Evelyn Glennie and The Duke Quartet. In addtion, Talbot also writes for the big and small screen. Credits include, The League of Gentlemen and The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Tenebrae, founded and directed by former King’s Singer Nigel Short, is a professional vocal ensemble, whose motto is passion and precision. Tenebrae has built an impressive reputation for innovative and memorable performances throughout the UK and Europe

"From it’s opening eerie vocal glissando (a Taiwanese singing effect called pasiputput) for the gentlemen of Nigel Short’s Tenebrae, to the final distribution of the pilgrims having reached Finisterre ... Path of Miracles is little short of a  musical miracle in itself. I would go so far as to suggest that this is to the first decade of the 21st century what Arvo Pärt’s Passio was twenty years earlier" -

"Joby Talbot has been making quite a name for himself recently. Path of miracles can only add to that reputation: it’s a real achievement. The path of the work’s title is that of the Pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela, and the work’s structure follows the four principal points of the Camino francés, Roncesvalles, Burgos, León and Santiago, in a complex and imaginative multilingual libretto by Robert Dickinson. Talbot’s musical vocabulary is wide-ranging, including as it does Taiwanese vocal techniques (providing a haunting beginning), reflective refrains that suggest Pärt, a dash of blue close-harmony and, last but not least, an underlying preoccupation (whether conscious or unconscious I could not say) with the Anglican choral tradition and plainchant. Despite the latter, I have to say that the piece is something of a patchwork. This does not arise, I think, from the use of different languages per se, but from the isolated nature of the musical responses to the different layers of the libretto. Memorable moments abound none the less; too many, in fact, to single out. I imagine the work’s impact when heard live would be even greater. The comparison with Pärt’s Passio quoted on the back of the CD is rather wide of the mark: it is precisely the unrelenting consistency of the latter that makes it what Path of Miracles is not. Tenebrae sounds completely at home with all of these styles and, under Nigel Short’s direction, positively driven. The singing is the best I have yet heard from the group, vibrant and incisive, with some tremendous solo work. If I have a quibble, it is with the bizarre pronunciation of the Greek texts, neither Erasmian nor modern (perhaps the intention was a half-way house), and, probably more seriously, with Signum’s retaining of the apostrophe in the phrase ’From it’s opening’, quoted from the aforementioned press review: a tiny point, but with this important release of a work that demands attention both spiritual and intellectual to this degree, important nevertheless."

Ivan Moody

International Record Review - June 2006

"I predict you will never have heard anything like the first two minutes of this piece: Tenebrae’s voices rise in pitch in a long, throaty glissando, like the gradual tensioning of an enormous cable. Path of Miracles, a work for unaccompanied voices, is based on the pilgrimage from the foot of the Pyrenees to Santiago in northwest Spain. It’s an interesting musical journey for composer, performers and listeners alike. Joby Talbot is an eclectic artist who composes for both film and television. Incidentally, he also arranged the strings for Paul McCartney’s latest album, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard."    ***

John Brunning

Classic FM Magazine - July 2006

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