- Men and Angels, for chorus
- Magnificat and Nunc dimittis, for chorus & chamber organ ("Hatfield Service")
- A Time to Dance, cantata for soloists, chorus & orchestra
The English composer Alec Roth has been active for several decades and collaborated with Indian novelist Vikram Seth on an opera in the 1990s. Here he seems to tread into the profitable choral music territory mined by John Rutter. Although he is in no way a clone of Rutter, your reactions to that composer may give you an idea of how you'll feel about the Roth works here. Like many of Rutter's works, the four-section cantata "A Time to Dance," for soloists, chorus, and orchestra, complete with processional, prologue, epilogue, and "after-dance," draws on a wide range of classic English poetry and sets the poems in an accessible style with a clearly defined sequence of events. Each of the four sections, representing a season, is dominated by a single soloist, soprano, alto, tenor, and bass in turn. The instrumentation is that of Bach's "Magnificat, BWV 243," for which "A Time to Dance" was composed as a companion piece; it may be performed on either period instruments (used here) or modern ones. Superimposed on this canvas is a style even more oriented toward crossover audiences than Rutter's, with broad diatonic harmonies and percussive and rhythmic touches that allude to American pop, blues, and jazz. The limpid writing for the soloists will be very appealing for many; sample the setting of Christina Rossetti's "Dancing in the Spring Morning" (track 5). The forces of the choir and orchestra Ex Cathedra under Jeffrey Skidmore have performed this music live and worked with Roth before; they are comfortable with the music's bright sound and execute it nicely. "A Time to Dance" lasts for more than an hour, and the program is rounded out by two smaller works that bring Rutter once again to mind. Recommended for those enthusiastic about Rutter's style.