Reviews

Conducting

Graham Ross’s programme binds the Tudor grief of Tomkins and Weelkes with romantic Elgar and the hallucinatory stasis of Tavener’s ‘Song for Athene’.  In the ideal ambience of Lincoln Cathedral, Ross and the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, rise to a high-class performance [of Duruflé’s Requiem] that breathes an elevated air of Gallic sensuality and measured grandeur.” * * * *

Financial Times | November 2016

Richard Fairman on The Choir of Clare College’s disc ‘Remembrance’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“Sublime … I’ve never had such a reaction to my Album of the Week”

Classic FM | November 2016

John Suchet on The Choir of Clare College’s disc ‘Remembrance’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“Thoughtfully conceived…expertly performed…the Clare College Choir is among the finest of the UK collegiate choirs. … Graham Ross conducts the work with evident sympathy and fine attention to detail.  … This very fine account of the Duruflé Requiem sets the seal on a thoughtfully conceived and expertly performed programme. ”

MusicWeb International | November 2016

John Quinn on The Choir of Clare College’s disc ‘Remembrance’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“A very polished performance … lovely singing”

Opera Ramblings | October 2016

The Choir of Clare College’s disc ‘Remembrance’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“This is a gorgeous disc”

St Louis Post-Dispatch | October 2016

Sarah Bryan-Miller on The Choir of Clare College’s disc ‘Remembrance’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“The singing by the Alumni of the Choir of Clare College Cambridge, under the direction of Graham Ross, is outstanding. … This disc is highly recommended”

Music for Several Instruments | September 2016

Dean Frey on Graham’s recording of Lydia Kakabadse’s ‘Cantica Sacra’ for Divine Art

 

“A stunning performance by the six alumni of Clare College under the perceptive direction of Graham Ross”

Choir and Organ | September 2016

Shirley Ratcliffe on Graham’s recording of Lydia Kakabadse’s ‘Cantica Sacra’ for Divine Art

 

“Performed with authentic flair. … Graham Ross gives us wonderfully mysterious and detailed performances that one does not forget after several hearings.”

Gapplegate Classical Modern Music | September 2016

Grego Edwards on Graham’s recording of Lydia Kakabadse’s ‘Cantica Sacra’ for Divine Art

 

“The Alumni of the Choir of Clare College are on top form and their performance could hardly be bettered.”

Pizzicato | September 2016

Remy Franck on Graham’s recording of Lydia Kakabadse’s ‘Cantica Sacra’ for Divine Art

 

“The choir accompanied in superb fashion, giving a confident and poised performance of a tricky work … the results were passionately mesmerising.  The ending, with Wallfisch’s solo getting progressively higher, whilst the choir’s ‘svyati’ got quieter was simply magical.”

Planet Hugill | June 2016

Robert Hugill on Graham’s 40-part concert at Spitalfields 40th Summer Festival

 

“…the ensemble [is] very nicely coordinated with clear lines and lovely choral sound, led by those bright and beautiful and judiciously balanced sopranos … Anyone who’s a fan of the Clare College Choir will not hesitate to add this disc to their collection.”

classicstoday.com | March 2016

David Vernier on The Choir of Clare College’s disc ‘Haec dies: Music for Easter’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, has been maintaining consistently high quality since Graham Ross assumed its directorship in 2010. … Its latest release is a smartly programmed collection of choral music relating to Easter, all of it of topmost caliber. … Timbres and textures are carefully balanced, and the program is captured in a vivid but not overly reverberant acoustic. … Elegantly rendered selections of Easter plainchant weave through the recital, including the supremely beautiful Easter sequence ‘Victimae paschali laudes.’ It’s hard to name favorites in this collection, but listeners will doubtless hit the replay button after Byrd’s jubilant six-part ‘Haec dies’ and Lassus’ spacious, polychoral ‘Aurora lucis rutilat’.”

The Santa Fe New Mexican | March 2016

James M. Keller on The Choir of Clare College’s disc ‘Haec dies: Music for Easter’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

 

“The tone is predominantly uplifting in its celebration of the Resurrection … virtuoso singing”

The Financial Times | March 2016

Richard Fairman on The Choir of Clare College’s disc ‘Haec dies: Music for Easter’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

 

“I love this recording, put together by Graham Ross and the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge; the selections, the way you hear settings of the same text side by side … blissifully uplifting … Excellent singing, and it’s a lovely recording as well from engineer John Rutter”

BBC Radio 3 Record Review | March 2016

Andrew McGregor on The Choir of Clare College’s disc ‘Haec dies: Music for Easter’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

 

“Clare College Choir set the gold standard for mixed collegiate choirs and maintains its prowess in this disc of Easter music. … Matthew Martin’s new setting of Haec dies, ear-catching and spirited, receives its world-premiere recording. Rachmaninov’s Dnes’ spaseniye has a dark resonance, complemented by the full harmonies of Samuel Wesley’s Blessed be God and Father. … Dic nobis Maria by the Venetian Giovanni Bassano goes with a real swing and might have been composed yesterday.”

The Guardian | March 2016

Fiona Maddocks on The Choir of Clare College’s disc ‘Haec dies: Music for Easter’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

 

I can’t think of a better collection of music for Easter.”

MusicWeb-International | March 2016

Brian Wilson on The Choir of Clare College’s ‘s disc ‘Haec dies: Music for Easter’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

 

“The liturgy for Easter Day is beautifully explored. Most of the works on the recording are superbly rendered polyphony. … This recording is a fine addition to the too-small shelf of Easter music.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch | March 2016

Sarah Bryan Miller on The Choir of Clare College’s disc ‘Haec dies: Music for Easter’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

 

“Oxbridge choirs are somehow flourishing, and Clare is a good example, under its impressive and still relatively new music director Graham Ross.  Its latest, seasonal CD ‘Veni Emmanuel’ (Harmonia Mundi) is a joy.  Its broadcasts are worth tracking.  And its Islington ‘Messiah’ was a big event: packed out and excellently done. … Ross’s speeds were breathless but exciting.  His soloists included the countertenor Christopher Ainslie, whose calm, underplayed delivery, in which every nuance registered, was mesmerising. … At Smith Square, half of the programme was John Tavener’s … ‘Ex Maria Virgine’.  A speciality of the Clare choristers in that it was written for them, I can see why they perform it; and they do it brilliantly.”

The Catholic Herald | January 2016

Michael White on The Choir of Clare College’s December 2015

 

 

“There’s refinement as well as intensity in the way that The Dmitri Ensemble voices this draining music. … This is a very fine performance indeed of the Chamber Symphony. … Graham Ross and his expert colleagues make a wonderful case for these works and their outstanding performances have been captured in very fine recorded sound, produced and engineered by John Rutter. I hope that this very fine disc will be followed by recordings of Barshai’s arrangements of the Third and Fourth Quartets.” RECORDING OF THE MONTH

Music-Web International | August 2015

John Quinn on The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Shostakovich/Barshai: Chamber Symphonies’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

 

beautifully blended choral sonorities … [this] superb recording serves as a sonorous reminder of the British choral tradition and its vibrant contemporary life

Opera News | July 2015

Judith Malafronte on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Ascendit Deus: Music for Ascensiontide and Pentecost’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

 

The Dmitri Ensemble and conductor Graham Ross draw upon the heightened contrasts available to them in performances of trenchant intensity. First-rate playing and recording.

Financial Times | June 2015

Richard Fairman on The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Shostakovich/Barshai: Chamber Symphonies’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

The rendition as a whole is nothing if not fresh and finely poised, the results are superb. Recommended.

Gramophone Magazine | May 2015

Gramophone Magazine on The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Shostakovich/Barshai: Chamber Symphonies’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

The university choir of Clare College, Cambridge, under the direction of Graham Ross, were in resounding form

Express.co.uk | April 2015

Clare Colvin on the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge’s concert performance of Mozart’s Requiem with the Aurora Orchestra, March 2015

 

‘Ascendit Deus’ distinguishes itself not only through expert singing, but through a program that hangs together very well. Conductor Graham Ross sets weightier pieces, including his own ‘Ascendo ad Patrem meum’ against shorter, more limpid, joyous works. … A state-of-the-art seasonal sacred recording, beautifully engineered.

AllMusic.com | March 2015

James Manheim on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Ascendit Deus: Music for Ascensiontide and Pentecost’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

splendidly bright…vigorous…haunting effect…all beautifully performed by this accomplished choir”

Gramophone Magazine | March 2015

Richard Lawrence on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Ascendit Deus: Music for Ascensiontide and Pentecost’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“This ensemble of 26 Cambridge undergraduates, led by Graham Ross, delivered a mostly British program, including challenging works by Britten, Walton and Jonathan Harvey, with finely honed precision and vivid expressivity.

Dallas Morning News | January 2015

Scott Cantrell chooses the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge’s concert in Plano, Texas, in September 2014 as one of Dallas Morning News’s Top 10 Classical Performances of 2014

 

 

“Schoenberg’s Viennese expressionist cantata ‘Friede auf Erden’ (Peace on Earth) … supplied a serious if sumptuous grand finale to the Clare College, Cambridge night in Smith Square’s festival.  Clare is an Oxbridge choir to watch.  Directed by the young (still in his 20s), hugely able and ambitious Graham Ross, it’s an ensemble of distinctive personality.”

Catholic Herald | January 2015

Michael White on the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s concert in St John’s, Smith Square’s Christmas Festival 2014, conducted by Graham Ross

 

“Schoenberg’s ‘Friede auf Erden’ … pushes tonality to its limits.  The music is ferociously demanding on the singers but these students seem undaunted by its difficulties. … [In] Mathias’s ‘A babe is born’ the players of the Dmitri Ensemble bring out the spiky nature of the instrumental accompaniment in a more successful fashion than I can recall hearing before.  Graham Ross’s … a cappella arrangement of ‘Still, Still, Still’ is most attractive and the warm arrangement for voices and strings of the Italian carol ‘Tu scendi dalle stelle’ is a delight.  The energetic performance of ‘Riu Riu Chiu’ is one of the best I’ve heard of this traditional Spanish carol.  Throughout this programme the Clare College choir sings superbly, demonstrating again that they are one of the finest Oxbridge choirs.  The contributions of the Dmitri Ensemble are similarly excellent.  This is a collection of Christmas music that dares to be different.  I … found the disc absorbing and the musicianship is consistently excellent.”

MusicWeb International | December 2014

John Quinn on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Lux de caelo: Music for Christmas’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

 

“Clare College director Graham Ross’s version of the Austrian carol ‘Still, still, still’ (another world-premiere) is one of the disc’s highlights.  His ‘Lullay, my liking’, a text that’s inspired composers for 600 years, is a truly unique creation, whose melodies, harmonies, embellished effects in the solos, and harp accompaniment exude an exotic quality that hints of ancient times and Middle-Eastern tradition. … Sonically the production … is excellent, and as mentioned, the singing first rate.”

Classics Today | December 2014

David Vernier on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Lux de caelo: Music for Christmas’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“The wonderful mixed-voice Choir of Clare College, Cambridge’s new Christmas disc … strikes a great balance between the familiar (all beautifully sung by the clear-voiced sopranos and full but never precocious lower voices) and the unexpected (when did you last see works from the Second Viennese school crop up on a Christmas CD?!).  There are also some beautiful arrangements of folk-carols from Austria, England and Italy by the Choir’s young director Graham Ross.”

Presto Classical | December 2014

Katherine Cooper on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Lux de caelo: Music for Christmas’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“This is a very fine successor to earlier Harmonia Mundi recordings from Clare directed by Graham Ross. … [Tavener’s] ‘Hymn to the Mother of God’ has now clocked up 26 recordings; I haven’t heard them all but Graham Ross and his forces capture the timeless quality of his music as well as any performers that I have heard. Graham Ross’s own ‘Lullay, my liking’ – likely to become one of Christmas favourites – and his arrangements of traditional Italian carols add something new to the mix without sounding either sugary or harsh – a perfect blend.”

MusicWeb International | December 2014

Brian Wilson on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Lux de caelo: Music for Christmas’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“All [carols] were appealingly sung with a beautiful tonal finish. … In Benjamin Britten’s ‘A Ceremony of Carols’ … rather impressively the choir sang the piece from memory [and] a number of movements showcased the fine soloists from the ensemble.  The performance was almost ideal. … Ross’s own arrangement of the traditional Italian piece ‘Tu scendi dalle stelle’ had a lovely lyrical lilt. … In ‘Friede auf Erden’, Schoenberg’s vocal writing, even when supported by orchestra, remains enormously taxing and the work requires a remarkable combination of stamina and accuracy, as well as taking the singers to the limits of their ranges. … This was a terrific performance with both choir and orchestra completely fearless in their attack on the music.  The eclecticism of Ross’s choice of music was characterised by the encore that they gave us.  Few people, I think, would have the chutzpah to follow Schoenberg with Adolphe Adam, but the choir and orchestra sent us away with a very fine performance of Adam’s ‘Cantique de Noel’ (sung in the original French). …  Everything was superbly done, and I was enthused by the way Ross challenged us all by including Schoenberg’s masterpiece.

Planet Hugill | December 2014

Robert Hugill on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s concert at St John, Smith Square’s Christmas Festival 2014, conducted by Graham Ross

 

Having already set down very successful discs of music for Advent and Passiontide, a disc of Christmas music was the logical next step for Clare College Choir and Graham Ross.  I have been impressed with how successfully Ross has set about renewing Clare’s great choral tradition.  This CD gives plenty more to celebrate.

For a start, they do what you would expect of them very well indeed. … Their Mendelssohn ‘Frohlocket’ is first rate, full of warm Romantic harmonies but also the dynamism of storytelling.  Likewise, the opening of Britten’s ‘A Boy Was Born’ revels in the composer’s daring harmonies and has plenty of space to breathe.

However, what makes this disc a little special is that Ross is every bit as interested in carols that come from the popular folk tradition.  The choir throw themselves with vigour and success into numbers like ‘Ríu, ríu chíu’ or Praetorius’ chorale settings, which have more than a slight air of the dance to them.  I really liked the contrasting takes on ‘In Dulci Jubilo’ and Ross’s own settings of the Italian ‘Tu scendi dalle stelle’ and the German ‘Still, still, still’.  … His ‘Lullay, my liking’ is gentle and peaceful.

The Dmitri Ensemble … sparkle all over Mathias’s ‘A babe is born’ and the Willcocks and Rutter numbers at the end of the disc.  Great, also, are the twentieth century works.  … Most surprising of all, however, is the final juxtaposition of Rutter and Schoenberg.  If it sounds crazy then it works brilliantly; in fact, the Schoenberg is a great way to round off the disc, bringing out the composer’s more approachable side without diluting all that made him such a revolutionary.

MusicWeb International | December 2014

Simon Thompson on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Lux de caelo: Music for Christmas’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

 

“This is no usual season offering. … The Schoenberg at the end is radiant”. * * * *

Financial Times | December 2014

Richard Fairman on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Lux de caelo: Music for Christmas’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“One of best discs of the season”.

BBC Radio 3 CD Review | December 2014

Andrew MacGregor on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Lux de caelo: Music for Christmas’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“There’s a certain festive chutzpah to Clare College’s latest disc, which manages not only to embrace both Rutter and Schoenberg but programmes them right next to each other as well.  Graham Ross pulls off this unlikely feat with aplomb, adding some Webern, Praetorius, Mendelssohn and Britten in there too for good measure.  Singing-wise, this might just be the best disc of the year.  These young voices are game for anything, impeccably drilled and musically sensitive.”  Top 10 Christmas Albums.

Sinfoni Music | December 2014

Sinfoni Music on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Lux de caelo: Music for Christmas’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“More than just Fine: Clare College choir offered a packed program to end the Library of Congress Irving Fine Festival. … It helped to have such a good chorus: The young singers moved crisply and adroitly through a packed program that, in addition to the Fine sets and the Bernstein, included Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols,” the “Nisi Dominus” from Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 and three Christmas-y works including, just by the by, Schoenberg’s big, difficult, late-Romantic ‘Friede auf Erden’.  Graham Ross, the group’s director, capitalizes on youthful energy with brisk tempi, and lets his singers be themselves; there was no attempt to evoke the white purity of a boy’s choir in the colorful, feminine sound of the sopranos and altos in ‘A Ceremony of Carols’.  The countertenor Mark Williams was stunning in the ‘Chichester Psalms’.  The chorus finished the evening with the Schoenberg, the hardest thing on the program, and a small world unto itself, sung as if it were no particular hurdle.”

Washington Post | December 2014

Anne Midgette on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge’s debut performance at Washington D.C.’s Library of Congress, conducted by Graham Ross

 

full, lush … the variety of music and the nuanced readings of these oft-times difficult pieces make for an enthralling seasonal experience, sung with passion and warmth.” * * * *

Audiophile Audition | December 2014

John Henry on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Lux de caelo: Music for Christmas’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“Matthias’s ‘A Babe is Born’ typifies the choir’s nimble alacrity, crisply accompanied by The Dmitri Ensemble. … Bravely, the CD ends with Schoenberg’s ‘Friede auf Erden’, preceded by Rutter’s ‘Nativity Carol’, possibly the first juxtaposition of these two composers on record.” Performance * * * * Recording * * * *

BBC Music Magazine | December 2014

Terry Blain on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Lux de caelo: Music for Christmas’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“This is one of a group of releases by long-established British collegiate and cathedral choirs to update their repertory a bit in the venerable medium of the Christmas album, and it may be the best of the bunch.  Director Graham Ross picks a program that shifts stylistic perspectives several times, but is held together by the fact that the pieces are basically all carols (with the possible exception of the final Friede auf Erde of Schoenberg, certainly a desirable inclusion at the moment).  Ross’ segues are novel and even startling, but the pieces are linked together convincingly. … The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge … has a clear, appealing sound, and the small Dmitri Ensemble is of a piece with the singers.  A major winner in the British holiday album genre.”

All Music | November 2014

James Manheim on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Lux de caelo: Music for Christmas’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“This is a most welcome follow-up to 2013’s ‘Veni Emmanuel: Music For Advent’, taking us on an interesting and enjoyable tour through time and around Europe that showcases some of the many special pieces of choral music written to celebrate this special time in the church calendar. … This is performance music and under Graham Ross the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble give us the music as it was intended to be heard. It is fascinating to follow the choir from an established classic such as Bach’s ‘In Dulci Jubilo’ straight into a world-premiere recording of Giles Swayne’s setting of ‘Coventry Carol’ and then on to John Tavener’s ‘Hymn To The Mother Of God’. … Graham Ross’s arrangements of the Italian carol ‘Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle’ and the Austrian ‘Still, Still, Still’ are both highlights. … The unifying factor in this collection is the superb singing of both choir and soloists.” * * * * * * * * 

Cross Rhythms Direct | November 2014

Steven Whitehead on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Lux de caelo: Music for Christmas’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

  

“With tart harmonies and surprising progressions, even a scurrying fugue at the end, Walton’s ‘The Twelve’ is a challenge even to professional forces. But the Clare College singers dispatched it with finely concentrated tone and impressive assurance. … This pattern of finely focused, expressive singing held true for the whole concert. … An ‘Ave Maria’ by the short-lived 16th-century Robert Parsons was particularly haunting, a quietly ecstatic weaving of counterpoint.”

Dallas Morning News | September 2014

Scott Cantrell on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge’s ‘Rejoice in the Lamb’ concert in Plano, Texas, USA, conducted by Graham Ross

 

 

“Byrd’s ‘O sing joyfully’ and Batten’s ‘Sing joyfully’ received expressive performances from the Choir, which performed under the expert direction of Graham Ross. … Herbert Howells’ ‘I heard a voice from heaven’ from his a cappella Requiem, and Heinrich Schütz’s ‘Selig sind die Toten’ were unexpectedly sweet and tender.  They seemed more like celebrations of the living than lamentations for the dead.  Ross dedicated those performances to the conductor Christopher Hogwood, who died in Cambridge the same day as the Nashville performance.  Nashvillians are so polite that they’ve been known to give standing ovations at the opening of a wallet.  The enthusistic applause that greeted the Choir of Clare College at the end of its performance was well deserved, and the singers repaid the gesture with an encore of Charles Villiers Stanford’s ‘The Bluebird’.  It was a beautiful rendition, and the chirping, high A-flats of the sopranos were surely the envy of real bluebirds everywhere.”

ArtsNash | September 2014

John Pitcher on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge’s ‘Great British Pairings’ concert at Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University, Nashville TN, USA, conducted by Graham Ross

 

The lesson of an experience like Musique Cordiale is that there are other things in music-making that count for at least as much as perfection: qualities to do with effort and commitment and communication of a sense that what you’re singing/playing truly matters to you.  And on those terms, this B Minor Mass was fabulous.  I heard it twice, in different hill-town churches, played on both occasions to packed audiences that overflowed into the street outside.  There was a real sense of occasion: far greater than when you go and hear a comparable concert at the Barbican or Southbank.  And though the first time round was unstable, the second sorted out most of the problems with a panache you just don’t get in more formal contexts.  The Et Resurrexit went off like a rocket.  The two Hosannas danced for joy.  The Sanctus had mystical grandeur.  And the Dona Nobis Pacem meant every word.  To get something like this off the ground takes a particular set of talents, and the presiding talent here was the conductor Graham Ross who for the past few years has been Director of Music at Clare College, Cambridge, as well as running his own very successful Dmitri Ensemble.  To say he’s impressive would be an understatement. … This was a collective enterprise in which everyone played their part – according to their gifts but with an elevating fervour. That’s what made it special. And it’s no bad thing to be reminded that a great work like the Bach B Minor Mass is difficult.  To feel the challenge is to catch the thrill.  Elite professional ensembles that make everything sound easy may be right for the recording studio but they’re not the last word when it comes to live performance.

The Telegraph | August 2014

Michael White on Musique Cordiale’s Provence performances of Bach’s ‘B minor Mass’, conducted by Graham Ross

 

“This is immensely beautiful singing, the Choir of Clare College under Graham Ross producing a sound which is neatly manicured and has been polished to an almost flawless shine.  Balance and intonation are impeccable and every tiny nuance and inflection is lovingly nurtured. … One of the big successes is Gesualdo’s ‘Caligaverunt oculi mei’ – … with a choir which sings with such technical perfection as this, this is a performance which has real impact.  At the climax of Bruckner’s ‘Christus factus est’ … Ross keeps his powder dry right up to the moment when it all bursts out with spine-tingling effect.”

International Record Review | June 2014

Marc Rochester on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“The first half of the concert … featured some of the finest part singing heard in Sydney since visits from the likes of the Hilliard Ensemble and Tallis Scholars.  Vocal director Graham Ross’s sextet of voices proved equally at home in a plangent Byzantine chant as in the complex polyphony of Dufay and Gesualdo, and later the Romantic sweep of Brahms and stark modernism of Stockhausen.

Daily Telegraph | May 2014

Steve Moffat on Australian Chamber Orchestra’s ‘Timeline’ project

 

“It made no sense on paper … and yet, in the flesh seemed to tell a story that may well have explained everything. … In the playing (Tognetti particularly lithe in the Brandenburg Concerto moment; the nimble strengths of the vocalists arranged and directed by Graham Ross) … the obvious or cheap was skirted or managed.  This had been a crazy brave excursion by the ACO and The Presets. I am almost astonished to realise that it worked.”

Sydney Morning Herald | May 2014

Bernard Zeul on Australian Chamber Orchestra’s ‘Timeline’ project

 

“Ross draws fine performances from his young singers, who seem entirely at home in the wide variety of repertoire here. Though the disc focusses on Passiontide, these highly satisfying performances warrant playing at any time of the year.” * * * * *

Planet Hugill | April 2014

Robert Hugill on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“Carefully chosen, elegantly sequenced and excellently sung: one of the most attractive new Easter recordings of the year.”

BBC Radio 3 CD Review | April 2014

Andrew McGregor on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“A great seasonal Easter release. Its hard to imagine these performances better done.”

Classic FM | April 2014 (Connoisseurs’ Choice)

David Mellor on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“In Victoria’s ‘O vos omnes’ … there’s a collective sense that the Clare College singers have fully internalised the text’s meaning.  The swell of empathetic feeling on ‘sicut dolor meus’ (‘like unto my sorrow’) seems experienced from within, the hushed closing chord numbed yet glowingly blended, more than just a clever dynamic gesture.  In the Lassus motet ‘Tristis est anima mea’ the emotions are more externalised, the soaring, vibrato-free soprano line suggesting the kind of beauty which ineluctably brings a palpable edge of sadness with it.  The choir’s men also contribute strongly: I especially enjoyed the sinuously expressive phrasing of the tenors in Byrd’s ‘Ave verum corpus’, where the basic tempo is subtly tweaked to telling effect by Graham Ross. … Highly sentient, technically excellent performances, atmospherically recorded.” * * * * (Performance) * * * * * (Recording)

BBC Music Magazine | April 2014

Terry Blain on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“Graham Ross has enhanced the rich legacy he inherited since becoming music director of Clare College Choir in 2010.  His choristers reflect the exceptional quality of Cambridge collegiate choral singing, arguably finer today than ever. … Ross encourages passionate singing in the polyphonic numbers: listen to John Sanders’ ‘The Reproaches’ or Bruckner’s ‘Christus factus’ est to experience the choir at full tilt.  But he never allows naked enthusiasm to undermine ensemble precision and immaculate intonation, cultivating instead a harmonious balance between music-making for the head and powerful expression for the heart.  The approach delivers outstanding results in Byrd’s double motet ‘Ne irascaris, Civitas sancti tui’ and especially in the world premiere recording of Ross’s ‘Precor te, Domine’, an impassioned contemplation of the crucified Christ’s dying body, intensified by keening sopranos and chilling choral incantations.” * * * *

Sinfini Music | April 2014

Andrew Stewart on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“You would hardly believe that the choir is still young in its present form.  Like Merton College, Oxford, they have come on in leaps and bounds and sound fully professional.”

MusicWeb International | April 2014

Brian Wilson on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“richly moving music … affecting performances by one of Cambridge University’s best chapel choirs … The pivotal pieces here are world-premiere recordings of Latin works by the choir’s director, Graham Ross.  Both are undeniably modern works but are also accessible and deeply evocative of the complex emotions of the Easter season.  Highly recommended to all library collections.”

CD HotList | April 2014

Rick Anderson on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“rapturously beautiful … tremendously uplifting … seamless performances”

The Buffalo News | April 2014

The Buffalo News on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“warm yet pure-toned emotion pours from these 27 voices, and a fine corps of basses grounds the whole with exemplarary gravitas.  Two interesting, testing, tartly-flavoured motets by Graham Ross receive premiere recordings”

Choir and Organ Magazine | March 2014

Rebecca Tavener on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

 

“Special mention must be made of two world premiere recordings of pieces by the choir’s director Graham Ross, ‘Ut tecum lugeam’ and the spectacular ‘Precor te, Domine’.  The chanting and singing, a cappella throughout, is superb and the acoustic standard excellent.” * * * * * * * * *

Cross Rhythms Direct | March 2014

Stephen Whitehead on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“a fine, well-balanced sound … an exemplary way of producing a diverse collection of music”

Fanfare | March 2014

J. F. Weber on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Veni Emmanuel: Music for Advent’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“impeccable diction … unforced grace … Under Graham Ross this was a virtuoso performance that showed the skill and courage of these young performers at their best.”

Cleveland Classical  | December 2013

Nicholas Jones on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge’s ‘Veni Emmanuel: Music for Advent’ concert in Cleveland Heights, OH

 

“exquisitely sung”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch  | December 2013

Sarah Bryan Miller on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Veni Emmanuel: Music for Advent’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“But highest praise must go to the choir of Clare College, Cambridge, who are under the direction of rising star Graham Ross.  Unlike the University boat teams, a college choir cannot fall back on mature opera students but works with the undergraduate voices to hand, which makes the contrapuntal clarity, fluency and special radiance of their singing all the more impressive.

Classical-Music.com | December 2013

Helen Wallace on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge’s performance of Bach’s ‘Mass in B minor’ at King’s Place, London

 

“The choir were in stunning form, taking the faster passage-work with a wonderful deftness, but also bringing a bright, focussed young tone to all the music and a remarkable attention to detail. … The choir was fully responsive with a remarkable attention to text.  There were moments of ravishing tone, such as in the ‘Et incarnatus est’ and ‘Crucifixus’. … I went away amazed at the assurance and technical facility of the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge.

Planet Hugill  | December 2013

Robert Hugill on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge’s performance of Bach’s ‘Mass in B minor’ at King’s Place, London

 

“There was real musicianship on display here. … Clare Choir’s contribution stood pretty much beyond reproach.

Boulezian  | December 2013

Mark Berry on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge’s performance of Bach’s ‘Mass in B minor’ at King’s Place, London

 

“John Tavener’s ‘God is with us’ [has been] recorded often before, but it’s heartening’ to find the piece sounding so exciting and magnificent in the Advent collection ‘Veni Emmanuel’ from the excellent Choir of Clare College, Cambridge. … Here is music to transform your life.” * * * * 

The Times | November 2013

Geoff Brown on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Veni Emmanuel: Music for Advent’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“The Choir of Clare College sound exceptionally good, hauntingly so. … Conductor Graham Ross deserves hearty congratulations for the wonderful precision and passion of the performances. … It is a hands-down winner.”

Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review | October 2013

Grego Applegate on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Veni Emmanuel: Music for Advent’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“Ross’ appreciation of repertoire is quite impressive, making this an admirable release for this current period of waiting for Advent.”

examiner.com | October 2013

Stephen Smoliar on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Veni Emmanuel: Music for Advent’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge were on excellent form. … They sounded very much as the best of the English choral tradition. … There was seraphic beauty to be experienced from Clare’s voices.

Seen and Heard International | January 2013

Mark Reed on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge’s performance of Elgar’s ‘The Dream of Gerontius’ with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Mark Elder at the Royal Festival Hall, London

 

“The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, is one of the various nurseries for future BBC Singers and an organisation that’s undergone major change in recent years with the departure, after distinguished decades in office, of Tim Brown as music director and the arrival of the young, thrusting and prodigiously talented Graham Ross as his successor.  Ross is not much older than his singers, but his discipline is strong, secure and musically astute.  He shapes and phrases with real mastery.”

The Catholic Herald | January 2013

Michael White on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge’s ‘Veni Emmanuel: Music for Advent’ CD launch concert at St John’s, Smith Square, London

 

“Hiding in the shadow of her father Gustav Holst and then her boss Benjamin Britten, Imogen Holst’s own music is yet to find its feet within the repertoire. But this impressive new recording from the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge under Graham Ross is a sure fire way of piquing wider interest. Ross and his choir respond with a rich and mature sound. … Lending this quixotic work [Imogen Holst’s orchestration of Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb] a broader grin by far, Ross delivers winning terpsichorean bounce.”

Entarte Musik | October 2012

Gavin Plumley on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc of Imogen Holst Choral Works for Harmonia Mundi

 

“Thrilling… A tribute to the superb ensemble singing of the Choir of Clare College under Graham Ross, who has trained with choir with its impeccable ensemble.  Clear, well-defined recording.”

Gramophone | October 2012

Edward Greenfield on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc of Imogen Holst Choral Works for Harmonia Mundi

 

“Thanks to Graham Ross and the estimable Choir of Clare College, here is a disc of Imogen Holst’s…fastidiously crafted and enjoyable choral music … it’s hard to imagine that it could have received better advocacy. I hope this fine recording will lead to some of our cathedral choirs taking it into their repertoire. Both the singing and playing on this disc are extremely fine and the performances are presented in excellent sound.”

MusicWeb International | September 2012

John Quinn on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc of Imogen Holst Choral Works for Harmonia Mundi

 

“These performances are poised, immaculate.”  * * * * (Performance) * * * * (Recording)

BBC Music Magazine | September 2012

Malcolm Hayes on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc of Imogen Holst Choral Works for Harmonia Mundi

 

“This programme, all of which is new to disc, shows her terrific gift for textured harmony, drama and vocal beauty. Performances and recording are of the highest standard, as one might expect.” * * * * *

Classical Music Magazine | September 2012

on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc of Imogen Holst Choral Works for Harmonia Mundi

 

“The choir responds skilfully under Graham Ross… admirably committed performances from the Choir of Clare College and The Dmitri Ensemble, in very fine sound.”

International Record Review | September 2012

John Warrack on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc of Imogen Holst Choral Works for Harmonia Mundi

 

“The rich yet clear sonority and firm yet delicate expressiveness of the choir, so well drilled by its directed Graham Ross, made the strongest impression.  This was Beethoven for the 21st century – and for the 19th.”

The West Australian | August 2012

William Yeoman on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven Symphony No. 9 in Perth Concert Hall

 

“the exquisitely honed skills of the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge… The Choir were the highlight of the symphony.”

ConcertoNet.com | August 2012

Gregory Pritchard on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven Symphony No. 9 in Melbourne’s Hamer Hall

 

“The Choir of Clare College, directed by Graham Ross, sang with great and subdued beauty in the first half, while opening up in the second section with a power that belied their relatively small size…  Truly one of the best concerts this year, and an interpretation of Beethoven that will remain with this critic for a long time.”  * * * * *

ArtsHub | August 2012

Tomas Boot on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven Symphony No. 9 in Sydney’s City Recital Hall

 

“The opening quiety entry from the the Choir of Clare College was electric…  The Choir performed from memory, delivering the music from the heart… The cheers at the end and the standing ovation spoke for itself.”  * * * * *

Bachtrack.com | August 2012

Oliver Brett on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven Symphony No. 9 in Sydney’s City Recital Hall

 

“The Choir of Clare College was warm, true and magnificent.”

Sydney Morning Herald | August 2012

Peter McCallum on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven Symphony No. 9 in Sydney Opera House

 

“Superlatives seem inadequate for this latest and consummate instalment of the Beethoven cycle…  Intoxicating and exhilarating, this is a performance for the history books.”

The Australian | August 2012

Vincent Plush on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven Symphony No. 9 in Canberra’s Llewelyn Hall

 

“A real sense of commitment from Graham Ross’s sharply focussed direction.”

Gramophone| November 2011

Marc Rochester on The Dmitri Ensemble’s third disc for Naxos; Judith Bingham’s organ concerto Jacob’s Ladder

 

“The stand-out work on this disc was the mini-concerto Jacob’s Ladder performed by The Dmitri Ensemble, conducted by Graham Ross.”

Classical CD Review | August 2011

Gavin Dixon on The Dmitri Ensemble’s third disc for Naxos; Judith Bingham’s organ concerto Jacob’s Ladder

 

“An exciting new release of works for organ and strings … stunningly played.”

Yorkshire Post | July 2011

on The Dmitri Ensemble’s third disc for Naxos; Judith Bingham’s organ concerto Jacob’s Ladder

 

“Opening the disc is the instantly memorable Jacob’s Ladder for organ and strings, … a highly illuminated musical depiction of the Biblical story. Very potent contribution by The Dmitri Ensemble … stunningly captured.”

David’s Review Corner | July 2011

David Denton on The Dmitri Ensemble’s third disc for Naxos; Judith Bingham’s organ concerto Jacob’s Ladder

 

“Throughout, the four soloists and The Dmitri Ensemble under Graham Ross give passionate, committed performances.  The stabbing staccatos and syncopated rhythms of Magnificat I bounce of the original Senegalese material with tremendous vigour, while in The silent land voices whisper and throng around Raphael Wallfisch’s sometime pained, sometimes ecstatic song like terrifying angels.  After such a tumult, the sweet sounds ofAve verum corpus descend like gentle rain before the climactic, tension-filled Stabat mater – though not without moments of pure, transcendental beauty, such as that depicting the death of Jesus as Mary looks on – rings with solo and choral singing of raw, magnificent power and sympathetic eloquence.  Indeed, it would be hard to imagine a better performance.”

International Record Review | March 2011

Robert Levett on The Dmitri Ensemble’s second disc for Naxos; Giles Swayne’s Stabat mater; The silent land

 

“As celebratory and exhilarating as one could wish… the result is enthralling… This disc is a hugely impressive achievement from The Dmitri Ensemble and conductor Graham Ross, showing great sympathy for Swayne’s music. The performances are technically accomplished, profoundly satisfying and vividly expressive.  This is contemporary choral music at its best.”

MusicWeb international | February 2011 (Bargain of the Month)

Robert Hugill on The Dmitri Ensemble’s second disc for Naxos; Giles Swayne’s Stabat mater; The silent land

 

“I had heard a performance of MacMillan’s Seven Last Words led by the composer, and, frankly, it bored me.  I thought it bloodless.  It never occurred to me that it could have been the account, rather than the piece.  The performance by Graham Ross shows me my mistake.  Ross and The Dmitri Ensemble transform what had seemed like bland piety into an intensity that burns.  What seemed a major mistake now strikes me as a highpoint of MacMillan’s catalogue.

MacMillan has expressed his gratitude to the performers, and he should.  These are good almost to the point of incredulity, with the choral work especially spot on as far as intonation, diction, rhythm, and tonal beauty are concerned.  I had never heard of The Dmitri Ensemble or Graham Ross before this recording.  As far as I’m concerned, they belong on anybody’s A-list of contemporary groups.  And you get all this on a budget label, yet.”

Classical CD Review | January 2011

Steve Schwartz on The Dmitri Ensemble’s debut disc for Naxos; James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross

 

The silent land for 40 voices and cello, modelled on Tallis’ Spem in alium, makes the deepest impact with a powerful performance.” * * * *

Classical Music Magazine | January 2011

on The Dmitri Ensemble’s second disc for Naxos; Giles Swayne’s Stabat mater; The silent land

 

“Everything is held together by a sense of sustained, muscular line rare among modern British composers.  A very worthwhile disc, foregrounding a composer who should be more widely appreciated.  Excellent performances and recordings.”  Performance * * * * * / Recording * * * * *

BBC Music Magazine | January 2011

Stephen Johnson on The Dmitri Ensemble’s second disc for Naxos; Giles Swayne’s Stabat mater; The silent land

 

“The Dmitri Ensemble champions Giles Swayne’s works. … A rock-steady fine-tuned choral sound.”

Gramophone | January 2011

On The Dmitri Ensemble’s second disc for Naxos; Giles Swayne’s Stabat mater; The silent land

 

“[This] has to be heard to be believed. … Brilliant playing by the reliable Raphael Wallfisch … The singing from The Dmitri Ensemble is superb and we salute the soloists.  Listeners with any interest in contemporary choral music should seek out this recording at their earliest convenience and rejoice in the fact that it is available at a very reasonable price.”

Cross Rhythms Direct | November 2010

Steven Whitehead on The Dmitri Ensemble’s second disc for Naxos; Giles Swayne’s Stabat mater; The silent land

 

” The Dmitri Ensemble, containing some of the UK’s finest professional singers, stick to their task with dedication and a sense of achievement, while Raphael Wallfisch adds the sad-voiced cello.  Excellent sound.”

David’s Review Corner | November 2010

David Denton on The Dmitri Ensemble’s second disc for Naxos; Giles Swayne’s Stabat mater; The silent land

 

“An orchestra of single strings, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn brought Mozart’s details into crisp focus, while conductor and fortepianist Graham Ross put some cute gags into the continuo recitative.”

The Independent | August 2010

Anna Pickard

 

“The first thing that struck me about this recording is that [Ross] is as much interested in the orchestra as he is in the choir.  [Stephen] Layton’s orchestra is fine (Hyperion), but one senses that it has been left rather in the shadow of the choir in which he feels totally in control.  Ross’s orchestral detail shines and it transforms the work.  I find it to be a truly engaging performance which has an edge to it which is wholly lacking in Layton’s manicured version.  Layton cannot endure the lengths of [MacMillan’s] silences but Ross shows that they heighten the drama considerably.  The quality of all the orchestral playing is outstanding and the crucial final minutes of the work are simply mesmerising.”

The Finzi Journal | Volume 26, No. 1, Summer 2009

Paul Spicer on The Dmitri Ensemble’s debut disc for Naxos; James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross

 

“The Dmitri Ensemble under Graham Ross are simply magnificent, the singing and playing are utterly committed and cannot be more highly praised.  This is a masterpiece of our time perfectly captured by a profound performance.”

Limelight Magazine | December 2009

Chris Latham on The Dmitri Ensemble’s debut disc for Naxos; James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross

 

“I was stunned (no other word for it) by the sophistication, chic, and sheer musical brilliance of this little show. … The best thing was the band which… delivered playing of astonishing refinement under a young conductor, not long out of Cambridge, by the name of Graham Ross.  Directing from the keyboard with assurance, wit, style and a sense of mischief in the recits that somehow kept everyone awake until the show came down at 12.40am (that’s Mediterranean festivals for you) Ross was very much a star; and I suspect we’ll all be seeing a lot more of him in the near future.”

The Telegraph Opera Now | October 2009

Michael White on Vignette Production’s Le nozze di Figaro, Musique Cordiale Festival at Seillans, France, August 2009

 

“An exceptional performance of MacMillan’s masterpiece.  As far as posterity is concerned, performances like this confirm that Seven Last Wordswill be seen as a masterpiece. … This is the work’s third recording – following on from those under the composer himself and Stephen Layton – and, on balance, the most compelling and inexorable-sounding yet.  Graham Ross secures outstandingly fervent and finely disciplined results from the youthful Dmitri Ensemble, while the three remaining items are just as impressive. … The disc is little short of a triumph in its combination of truthful sonority and wholly natural perspective.  Richly rewarding listening, all of it, and a classy 50th-birthday tribute to MacMillan.”

Gramophone | September 2009 (Editor’s Choice)

Andrew Achenbach

 

“This disc is in a class of its own.  I recall not really grasping the work on first hearing it, finding it rather diffuse, and though repeated listenings brought it more into focus, this recording shows exactly what was missing – that very physical sense of being inside the music.  There is a tremendous immediacy to The Dmitri Ensemble’s performance, a tautness to the instrumental work and a feeling of intimacy in the vocal sound. … There is also a very effective balancing of the knife-edge of sweetness with organum-like austerity. … It can rarely have been performed as movingly, but not cloyingly, as this. … An essential contribution to the MacMillan discography.”

International Record Review| July 2009

Ivan Moody

 

“[Kingston Choral Society’s] second concert under their new Music Director, Graham Ross, showed what a difference this young and dynamic conductor has already made…as they gave some of the best singing that I have heard from them in many years.”

Croydon Guardian | June 2009

Helen Jones

 

“Anyone looking for an alternative to the usual diet of Passiontide choral music could do a lot worse than turn to this inspired and inspiring CD of MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross, together with three shorter independent pieces, two of which here receive their first recordings.  The Dmitri Ensemble, under conductor Graham Ross, rises ably to the challenges of MacMillan’s sound world.  The disc provides a fitting tribute to the composer, 50 this year.” * * * *

Choir & Organ | July 2009

Philip Reed on The Dmitri Ensemble’s debut disc for Naxos; James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross

 

“Considering the many excellences of the included shorter works, this wonderful album by the newly formed Dmitri Ensemble—celebrating the composer’s 50th birthday—may easily turn out to be the preferred medium for buyers to acquaint themselves with this seminal, and fabulous, piece of music.  Don’t end the year without making its acquaintance!” * * * * *

Audiophile Audition | June 2009

Steven Ritter on The Dmitri Ensemble’s debut disc for Naxos; James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross

 

“The work of the youth-based Dmitri Ensemble comes with a ringing endorsement from James MacMillan himself, and within a few seconds of Seven Last Words from the Cross it becomes clear why.  Singing and playing are polished, focused and alert; but it‘s the controlled intensity that’s most striking here.  The first movement’s lamenting string figure – like the hushed breathing of the sea – carries an emotional charge out of all proportion to its apparent means.  Above it the chorus’s chanting, keening figures grow steadily in power: the sense of a strong sustained line behind the men’s overlapping speech-like comments is potent.  The massive block-like chords of ‘Woman Behold Thy Son!’ are impressive enough, but the silences between them are still more gripping.  And the contrast between the sweet Celtic-inflected lyricism of ‘Verily, I say unto you’ and the uncompromising non-tonal harshness of ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani?’ has never been made quite so forcefully in my experience.  Nor has the journey of Seven Last Words ever seemed to be over so quickly – at the same time urging one to reflect on why these words (and those of the three shorter pieces) can still mean something even to faithless ears.   Until now I’ve been happy enough with the Polyphony version on Hyperion, but in comparison with The Dmitri Ensemble’s contained heat it now sounds just a little cool.  The Naxos recording too is outstanding, with the church acoustic savoured but never allowed to swamp details.”  Performance * * * * * / Recording * * * * *

BBC Music Magazine | June 2009 (Critic’s Choice)

Stephen Johnson on The Dmitri Ensemble’s debut disc for Naxos; James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross

 

“An inspiring performance from a young British ensemble of admirable contemplation and commitment.  The French composer Arthur Honegger expressed an aim to ‘write a music which would be understandable to the great majority of listeners and at the same time sufficiently free of banality to interest the connoisseurs’.  Today, that description easily applied to the music of Scottish composer James MacMillan, celebrating his fiftieth birthday this year, and this recording is a fitting birthday present.  Vocal tone and diction are sonorously clear, textures transparent, and the passion of the cross almost palpably evident.  The addition of a previously unrecorded motet, the contemplative Nemo te condemnavit, is a special treat.  I didn’t want this to end.” 4.5 / * * * * *

Classic FM Magazine | June 2009

CG on The Dmitri Ensemble’s debut disc for Naxos; James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross

 

“Fine performances by the Dmitri Ensemble, conducted by Graham Ross.”

St Petersburg Times | May 2009

Geoffrey Norris on The Dmitri Ensemble’s debut disc for Naxos; James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross

 

“MacMillan deploys a rich palette of harmony in evoking both anguish and consolation.  But the variety of means is underpinned by the music’s seamless strand of emotional sincerity, establishing, in this radiant performance, a profoundly affecting balance between awe and dramatic, human narrative.”  * * * * *

The Telegraph | April 2009

John Fleming on The Dmitri Ensemble’s debut disc for Naxos; James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross

 

“Graham Ross, with his outstanding choir and string ensemble on this, their debut disc, gets right into the heart, soul and spirit of MacMillan’s great work.  Of course it’s a sacred piece, but Ross and The Dmitri Ensemble bring to the music exactly the human and emotional dimensions critically missing in Layton’s earlier recording.  The balance of string and choral forces is infinitely better, with greater clarity of text and texture, a richer, more vibrant sound, and a compelling and deeply authoritative emotional commitment.  It’s all very well having a masterpiece on your hands, but it has to have masterly forces to bring it off the page into sound and into life.  And this is exactly what this impressive group does in this gripping, harrowing, beautiful and profoundly moving account.  Like me, you may not have heard of The Dmitri Ensemble before.  We know them now.  The message about this new disc is unequivocal: get it.  It’s an amazing performance.”

The Glasgow Herald | March 2009

Michael Tumelty on The Dmitri Ensemble’s debut disc for Naxos; James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross

 

“The Elgar concerto with cellist Soo-Kyung Hong became a unique and unforgetable experience in collaboration with the young English conductor Graham Ross.  It was impressive that [he] managed to get the big orchestra [Aalborg Symfoniorkester] to give Hong the necessary space.  Everybody submitted to the organic whole with Soo-Kyung Hong as the indisputable and natural centre.  Previously Ross had demonstrated a gift for conjuring up an organic orchestral sound in Britten’s Four Sea Interludes,… with clear lines and distinct structures.  His reading of Carl Nielsen’s Symphony no. 2 was again a unified whole, with beautiful and clarified orchestral playing.” * * * *

Nordjyske, Aalborg | November 2008

Tore Mortensen

 

“An astonishingly good concert.  The Sinfonia under its youthful conductor (only 22) Graham Ross, kicked off 2008’s season with an immensely challenging programme … a gritty and overpowering experience.  Ross brought the very best from this fine orchestra… [who] brought this wonderful symphony to a towering climax which had its audience exhausted.  So too were the members of the band who beamed at each other and knew they had pulled off something rather special.”

Cambridge Local Secrets | January 2008

Mike Levy

 

“There was something about the works that was awe-inspiring and reverential. … The Dmitri Ensemble sounded gorgeous, especially the cellos, and the singers were exceptional.  They played and sang with strength and conviction throughout.  In the choir, the sopranos were high and sweet, and there were some really lovely solos.  The altos were a mix of contraltos and counter tenors which is a sound I really like.  The tenors were gorgeous – again, there was a very accomplished soloist.  But the basses were exceptional.  They were one of the main reasons why I wanted to stay for the second half: I wanted to hear that sound again.  It was such a big deep sound, like the lower registers of a bassoon or cello.  They must be the most beautiful bass section I’ve ever heard.”

Primi Divi | March 2008

 

“The Dmitri Ensemble’s 24 singers, ably and unobtrusively directed by its founder Graham Ross, coped admirably with the sometimes complex ornamentation and wide range of dynamic and textural contrasts. …   This was an assured performance of a technically challenging work.  The performers demonstrated a well-blended sound and tight togetherness, led with sensitivity by Jamie Campbell (who also provided a beautifully sweet-toned solo line in the third movement).  There was no doubt that the performers gave their all to a very challenging piece and MacMillan seemed genuinely pleased with the performance. However, the star of the evening was the Dmitri Ensemble itself.”

Classical Source | March 2008

Gill Redfern

 

Composing

 

Graham Ross’s arrangement of ‘Abide with me’ is simply sublime – there is no other word for it.

Classic FM | November 2015

The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge’s disc ‘Remembrance’ for Harmonia Mundi USA, Album of the Week on Classic FM

 

“A most beautiful arrangement of Abide with Me by Graham Ross. …  The descant in the third stanza of Abide with Me is gorgeous.”

Opera Ramblings | October 2015

The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge’s disc ‘Remembrance’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“However, the standout track is a debut recording of Ross’s arrangement of that old favourite ‘Abide With Me’. Ross wisely keeps the tune ‘Eventide’ but his variations on the theme breathe new life into what can sometimes seem hard going and the choir, singing a cappella, bring out every nuance of Henry Francis Lyte’s words. Once this arrangement becomes better known I predict it becoming the default setting at many funerals and other acts of remembrance although probably not at F.A. Cup Finals.”

Cross Rhythms  | October 2015

Stephen Whitehead on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge’s disc ‘Remembrance’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“Amid the muscular Christianity there are welcome oases of reflection. Conductor Graham Ross’s ‘Ascendo ad Patrem meum’ is one of them, the stratospheric soprano saxophone of Anthony Brown piercing the layered choral textures, probing the mysteries underlying the observable events of the ascension period. It’s an edifying setting, as is Jonathan Harvey’s ‘Come, Holy Ghost’.”

BBC Music Magazine | March 2015

A double four-star review for The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Ascendit Deus: Music for Ascensiontide and Pentecost’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“Graham Ross’s … a cappella arrangement of ‘Still, Still, Still’ is most attractive and the warm arrangement for voices and strings of the Italian carol ‘Tu scendi dalle stelle’ is a delight.”

MusicWeb International | December 2014

John Quinn on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Lux de caelo: Music for Christmas’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“Clare College director Graham Ross’s version of the Austrian carol ‘Still, still, still’ (another world-premiere) is one of the disc’s highlights.  His ‘Lullay, my liking’, a text that’s inspired composers for 600 years, is a truly unique creation, whose melodies, harmonies, embellished effects in the solos, and harp accompaniment exude an exotic quality that hints of ancient times and Middle-Eastern tradition.”

Classics Today | December 2014

David Vernier on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Lux de caelo: Music for Christmas’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

There are also some beautiful arrangements of folk-carols from Austria, England and Italy by the Choir’s young director Graham Ross.”

Presto Classical | December 2014

Katherine Cooper on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Lux de caelo: Music for Christmas’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“Graham Ross’s own ‘Lullay, my liking’ – likely to become one of Christmas favourites – and his arrangements of traditional Italian carols add something new to the mix without sounding either sugary or harsh – a perfect blend.”

MusicWeb International | December 2014

Brian Wilson on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Lux de caelo: Music for Christmas’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

 

“Ross’s own arrangement of the traditional Italian piece ‘Tu scendi dalle stelle’ had a lovely lyrical lilt.”

Planet Hugill | December 2014

Robert Hugill on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s concert at St John, Smith Square’s Christmas Festival 2014, conducted by Graham Ross

 

“Graham Ross’s arrangements of the Italian carol ‘Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle’ and the Austrian ‘Still, Still, Still’ are both highlights.” * * * * * * * * 

Cross Rhythms Direct | November 2014

Steven Whitehead on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and The Dmitri Ensemble’s disc ‘Lux de caelo: Music for Christmas’ for Harmonia Mundi USA

“Unquestioningly the choir reserves its interpretive pinnacles for the two items by Ross himself.  Of the two, ‘Precor te, Domine’ is by far and away the most adventurous musically, inhabiting a world of harsh dissonances and awkward intervallic leaps, which certainly gives plenty for the singers to get their teeth into; which they do with unabashed alacrity.  The sparse harmonic language of ‘Ut tecum lugeam’ brings a more raw emotional edge to the programme and, again, provides a splendid showcase for this choir.”

International Record Review | July 2014

Marc Rochester on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“Ross’s music is graphic and dramatic.  Purely as a matter of personal taste I find [‘Precor te, Domine’] rather acerbic but there’s no denying the power of the writing – or the commitment with which it’s delivered here.  His ‘Ut tecum lugeam’ sets two stanzas of the Stabat Mater.  This is very spare music, especially in the first stanza, and the harmonic language is very tense; it’s an effective piece.”  RECORDING OF THE MONTH

MusicWeb International | April 2014

John Quinn on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

 “‘Ut tecum lugeam’ … is a quietly intense work with some delicious close harmonies and a finely austere approach to the text. … Ross’s own ‘Precor te, Domine’ takes its text from the Book of Hours, focussing on Christ’s passion.  His writing here has a harder edge to it, bringing an intense quality to the text.  The performance from the choir is exemplary, bringing intensity to the highly dramatic writing.” * * * * *

Planet Hugill | April 2014

Robert Hugill on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“Graham Ross … delivers outstanding results in Byrd’s double motet ‘Ne irascaris, Civitas sancti tui’ and especially in the world premiere recording of [his] ‘Precor te, Domine’, an impassioned contemplation of the crucified Christ’s dying body, intensified by keening sopranos and chilling choral incantations.” * * * *

Sinfoni Music | April 2014

Andrew Stewart on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“The pivotal pieces here are world-premiere recordings of Latin works by the choir’s director, Graham Ross.  Both are undeniably modern works but are also accessible and deeply evocative of the complex emotions of the Easter season.  Highly recommended to all library collections.”

CD HotList | April 2014

Rick Anderson on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“Two interesting, testing, tartly-flavoured motets by Graham Ross receive premiere recordings.”

Choir and Organ Magazine | March 2014

Rebecca Tavener on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“Special mention must be made of two world premiere recordings of pieces by the choir’s director Graham Ross, ‘Ut tecum lugeam’ and the spectacular ‘Precor te, Domine’.  The chanting and singing, a cappella throughout, is superb and the acoustic standard excellent.” * * * * * * * * *

Cross Rhythms Direct | March 2014

Stephen Whitehead on The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge disc of ‘Stabat Mater dolorosa: Music for Passiontide’ for Harmonia Mundi

 

“But the main attraction was the outstanding Anthony Brown, and his equally brilliant accompanist Leo Nicholson, playing Graham Ross’s ‘Coronach’, four beautifully crafted miniatures of keening and threnody.” * * * *

The Times | January 2014

Hilary Finch on the Park Lane Group première of ‘Coronach’ for alto saxophone and piano

 

“Webern’s Two Pieces for Cello and Piano (arranged here for string quartet and cello by Graham Ross) with its glossy, Brahmsian feel, was the pick of the first half.”

The Australian | August 2011

Gillian Wills on the arrangement for the Australian Chamber Orchestra

 

“A favourite and currently little-known carol is Graham Ross’s I sing of a maiden.  The text, written in the late Middle Ages, is of supreme beauty and Ross has captured the essence of the poem at least as well as Britten and Hadley.  The music depicts the demure and almost mystical figure of the Virgin, through a harmonic palette of gentle but permanent unresolved dissonance and a daring refusal to submit to traditional soprano-alto-tenor-bass texture.  The melodies are achingly beautiful and this carol is something new, fresh, stimulating.”

BBC Music Magazine | December 2010

Adrian Partington on BBC Music Magazine’s ‘Six of the best … unknown carols’

 

“Graham Ross’s rearrangement of the original work for piano accompaniment [Schubert’s Rondo Brilliante D895] into a setting for chamber ensemble was particularly successful in deepening the range of tonal colours underpinning the alternating savage arpeggios, lyrical lines and dance-like motifs on the violin. Interweaving clarinet and cello sonorities were particularly complementary, creating a satisfying emotional intensity and precluding sentimentality.”

Canberra Times | September 2010

Jennifer Gall

 

“This new version [of ‘I sing of a maiden’] by the prodigiously talented Graham Ross deservedly won the 2009 John Sanders Memorial Prize.  It centres round the stillness of ‘he came al so still’, with a moment of utter immobility the final time those words are sing – out of which erupts the conclusion that ‘well may such a lady Goddes mother be’.  This is a musical setting that heightens the familiar words so that they become charged with fresh significance.”

Royal Schools of Church Music | September 2010

James L Montgomery

 

“The Solstice [Quartet], winners of this year’s Royal Over-Seas League competition, also brought considerable conviction to Graham Ross’s new Quartet No 1, premiered in Suffolk two weeks earlier.  Written as a set of 11 variations on an opening theme, the work plays on the contrast between fast, intricate tuttis and much slower, contemplative, sometimes anguished passages.  Not only was Ross’s material effectively characterised, but the transitions from one mode to the other were seamlessly achieved.” * * * *

Rian Evans | September 2009

The Guardian

 

“A tremendous performance.  His inspirational leadership produced some very fine effects.  Ross ably fashioned a fine sense of shape and scale in these heartfelt and devout masterpieces.   The voices soured effortlessly to create a jubilant and uplifting concert.”

The Herald | January 2009

Katy Gould

 

“Farnham Youth Choir showed sensitivity to the delicate word-painting of Silver, a setting of Walter de la Mare by ex-member Graham Ross, a composer of rare promise.”

The Herald | March 2009

Graham Noakes

 

Ayurvedic Pulses made a big impact on the audience…how best to describe it?  The Marmite effect…love it or hate it…understand it or query it… it was a great talking point, nobody expected anything like this, it perfectly matched the mood of the evening of being different, original and relevant.  I thoroughly enjoyed the experience!”

Hymans Robertson: Club Vita launch | November 2008

Nick Flint

 

“It suited choral singing beautifully.”

The Choir, BBC Radio 3 | April 2006

Deborah Catterall on Come to me in the silence of the night

 

“It was a unanimous decision. … Just looking at the rehearsals, the piece that the choir had the most problems with was Graham’s [Come to me in the silence of the night], and that’s the piece that won.  I think that’s absolutely fascinating, and right – I think it has to be like that.  If the purpose of a composition competition is to create something new, or to foster a new voice, there has to be that dialogue, that element of challenge.  You see them animated, you see them disagree. … For me that was a magical moment.”

The Choir, BBC Radio 3 | April 2006

Tarik O’Regan on National Youth Choir of Great Britain’s inaugural Composition Competition

 

“There are 10 new commissions at the Proms this year; I decided to hand out a few more. The brief? Write a piece of music of no more than three minutes’ duration that takes a classic piece of Proms repertoire and ‘rewrites’ it. … That’s what I got; Graham Ross’s astounding blend of Ravel’s Bolero and Pavane pour une infante défunte.”

Times Online | July 2008

Nicola Christie on Pavane pour un Boléro défunt