Press reviews:
The Book of New Canticles Volume I

The Book of New Canticles Volume 1 cover
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Issue: June 2012

As it happens, simultaneously there appears a brave collection from Shorter House of five new Magnificat and Nunc dimittis settings all written within the last 14 years.
Further volumes for unaccompanied mixed voices and for upper and lower voices are planned. The most immediately attractive settings are by the oldest and most established of the composers: Peter Klatzow with a joyful Magnificat and a more contemplative Nunc dimittis that look and sound like a part of the Anglican cathedral tradition into which they will surely be welcomed, and Philip Moore with a thoughtful and warm Huntsville Service based on plainchant tones. Simon Biazeck opens the volume with a setting with an independent organ part but which may be omitted, although the piece would lose some colour without it. Jeremy Filsell (Windsor Service) and James Lark both write energetic organ parts, with more straightforward choral lines.

Choir and Organ Magazine
Issue: August 2011

The burgeoning Shorter House has just released it’s first volume of New Canticles — strictly speaking new evening canticles. It contains five settings in English of the Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis by Simon Biazeck, Jeremy Filsell, Peter Klatzow, James Lark, and Philip Moore. All are for SATB choir with organ (although Biazeck’s setting has an organ part that ‘is not indispensable and may be omitted’). Like The Book of New Responses, this New Canticles volume is immaculately produced at choir stall-friendly B5 size, and is competitively priced for over 90 pages of music. Biazeck’s setting is a homage to Herbert Howells, and is a handsomely-crafted pastiche of the very best sort. Lark’s is atmospheric and quirky, and Philip Moore’s is a beautifully wrought expansion of the Fourth Tone chant. The setting that leaps off the page as the most immediately useful for a cathedral or good church choir is that by Peter Klatzow, wherein the text is sensitively and creatively handled, the music is concise but in no way perfunctory, and — most gratifyingly — the vocal writing is adept and pragmatic. The whole volume is an approachable and highly effective addition the Anglican repertoire.

— Jeremy Summerly

Muso Magazine
Issue: May 2011

Shorter House, a specialist choral music publisher set up in 2010, adds to its catalogue with this anthology of new Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis settings. Thanks to this and other recent publications, Shorter House is helping to keep the British composition boat afloat by supporting emerging composers alongside more established names – and providing choirs with perky, fresh music to add to their repertoires. For any choral singer or conductor who’s lost count of how many drearily similar settings of the Mag and Nunc they’ve come across, this anthology will provide a satisfying change. These age-old texts are taken in some new and adventurous musical directions, and, with five settings to choose from, there should be something to suit all tastes. Illuminating the healthy state of British composition today, all five settings here were composed between 1998 and 2011 – and they range from the more traditional and harmonic to the non-tonal. None of the settings are unapproachably complex, however, so they should all be suitable for amateur and school choirs as well as more experienced groups. My personal favourite is Peter Klatzow’s jubilant Magnificat, arranged for flute and strings as well as choir, which is followed by the beautifully molto tranquillo Nunc Dimittis. Filling a gap in the market for new Mag and Nunc settings bound together in one volume, this compendium is a worthwhile supplement to any choir library.

— Lucy de Butts

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