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Path of Miracles
Ensemble Detail(s)
Label name
Signum Classics
Recording year
Conductor details
Nigel Short

Work Title


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.
John Brunning, Classic FM Magazine, 7/1/2006

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 with the Anglican choral tradition and plainchant.
Ivan Moody, International Record Review, 6/1/2006

The vivid libretto was compiled by poet Robert Dickinson from medieval texts, the Psalms and his own original reflections. Those words, and a visit to the main sites along the route, evidently inspired Talbot: this is a work of remarkable range and assurance. ‘Roncesvalles’ opens with eerie, long-held tones in the bass register, gradually hauled up to a radiant chord in the higher voices. The passage was inspired by a technique used in traditional Taiwanese music but one could just as well imagine it as a synthesis of Ligeti and Pärt. The movement goes on to describe Herod’s execution of St James, and the eventual discovery of the body at Compostela, in a rich, agile, vibrant evocation of medieval dances and hymns. Throughout the work Talbot achieves a similarly fertile accommodation between ancient shapes and contemporary colours, moulding often challenging parts into a luminous and uplifting whole.
Barry Witherden, The Gramophone, 8/1/2006

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