Alexander L'Estrange, medieval French name and all, is a contemporary English composer of mostly vocal and choral music, much of it accessible and appealing. A song cycle on the historical development of the bicycle is part of his catalog. On Eagles' Wings is a group of sacred pieces seemingly suited to English collegiate choirs' unquenchable thirst for new repertoire, but L'Estrange benefits here from performances by Tenebrae and director Nigel Short, as crack a choral ensemble as there is anywhere.
The Spanish label Glossa seems to be releasing a fair amount of sacred music, especially from the Neapolitan realms of the 17th and 18th centuries, such as the rerelease of the Alessandro Scarlatti Lamentations reviewed elsewhere, though to be fair they are also a conduit, as in this recording, for other European firms as well. This selection of late 17th-century Lessons from Holy Week, along with a few instrumental works for filler, fits nicely within Glossa’s repertoire, which includes Johann Sebastian Bach and Pierre Bouteiller, in addition to a rather quirky offering titled Monteverdi Meets Jazz .
Martyn Brabbins is at the forefront of contemporary music: well renowned and high profile, he conducted at the opening Night of the Proms 2012. The three orchestral pieces presented here are a masterclass in orchestral colour and sound. Each piece was composed a decade apart and they give a good overall sense of Pickard’s development. Booklet notes are detailed and informative (by the composer).