"Jeremy Filsell’s flawless playing draws numberless nuances from Tombridge School ’s Marcussen instrument. James Gilchrist is a passionate and occasionally volatile soloist. Jeremy Backhouse and the mighty Vasaris give everything they can muster."
Recordings of the Year 2007
" ... that this eloquent new piece is a work of great importance and one that not only stands firmly in the proud tradition of English choral music but that also carries that tradition forward and enriches it ... The virtuoso organ part is played by Jeremy Filsell in a manner that is beyond praise"
"There are interesting juxtapositions of meaning and themes, portraying internal and external troubles of the spirit and soul ... the performances are all as terrific as one has come to expect from the Vasari Singers and their collaborators. Jeremy Backhouse battles valiantly with the size of the piece, channelling the massive forces in the right direction, while James Gilchrist is a committed and lyrical tenor soloist ... The choir itself gives a superlative performance, evoking the best of the English oratorio tradition in their vigorous and uplifting singing"
"...The Vasari Singers’ quality and commitment is of the highest, with James Gilchrist an unfailingly outstanding soloist. Jeremy Filsell accompanies superbly, and much praise is due to Jeremy Backhouse, who secures a performance of compelling artistry"
Musical Opinion - November/December 2007
"I wholeheartedly recommend this recording of The Cloud of Unknowing, an interesting and powerful response to the wars and atrocities of the past five years ... I was immediately won over by his 80 minute work. The drama this challenging piece demands is captured by the brilliance of the choir’s performance ... The emotion is perceptively displayed without any sentimentalism by the superb Vasari Singers ... A riveting and outstanding performance and excellent recording"
Organists Review - November 2007
"...This disc seems likely to prove an apotheosis among apotheoses for Vasari, such is the prodigious care with which they tackle Pott’s passionate and apocryphal - or should that be apocalyptic? - masterpiece ... Pott’s juxtaposition of Biblical fragments with texts by William Blake and Odysseus Elytis emerges as an entirely wholesome libretto, and the choir manages to clasp the image throughout, with Jeremy Filsell’s organ-playing sealing the textures with unshakable sensitivity ... it is the calculated exploitation of that most indispensable of musical building blocks - absolute silence - that fixes these choral and solo events together so utterly convincingly"
International Record Review - November 2007
"Words become clear and telling, and in an atmosphere of gentle supplication the agony and the anguish of a conflict torn world are revealed ... James Gilchrist proves a tower of strength, pouring his very soul into it and weighting and colouring each phrase with loving care. The Vasari Singers acquit themselves more than honourably, surmounting both the complexity of the task and its length ... the acoustic (Tonbridge School Chapel) is generous allowing the final passages to fade into a radiance of other-worldly ecstasy which would have done justice to Gounod"
Musical Pointers - September 2007
"Both technically and emotionally the work is dauntingly demanding, but the Vasaris respond unflinchingly... It’s a long part and constantly taxing but James Gilchrist delivers it with huge distinction"
Muso - September 2007
"...the tenacity and honesty with which he engages in self-debate is deeply moving... This performance is both passionate and precise, with magnificent contributions from Gilchrist and Filsell" ****
The Sunday Times - 2 September 2007
"Francis Pott, in his acclaimed commission for the Vasari Singers’ silver jubilee, provides a 21st-century take on the dark soul of humanity ... Pott’s monumental, eloquent take on senseless violence and shameful hypocrisy offers a shield to the spirit against those who would destroy it. Unmissable"
Classic FM Magazine - October 2007
"The enormously gifted Vasari Singers and their conductor Jeremy Backhouse have made unparalleled efforts in recent years to revitalise and replenish the modern choral repertoire. This latest example is an immensely moving oratorio for tenor, choir and organ, written in response to worldwide conflict generally but particularly to the July 7th London bombings. Pott chooses texts from the psalms, Blake, war poets and mystical tracts to illustrate mankind’s capacity both for cruelty and self-sacrifice, setting them to music of great power and beauty."
The Observer - 29 July 2007
"Jeremy Backhouse’s excellent Vasari Singers performed it not just accurately, but with bags of heart and soul as well. A sincere, intelligent and admirably unsensational meditation on the darkness at the heart of man. The Cloud of Unknowing deserves a concert life beyond this moving performance."
After he premiere the critics wrote:
The performance, sensitive and nuanced was by the Vasari Singers conducted by Jeremy Backhouse. They had no difficulty in confirming that they are one of the most accomplished choirs in the country today.
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