Paul Stanhope: Lux Aeterna by Sydney Chamber Choir & Paul Stanhope

Lux Aeterna is Latin for ‘eternal light’. Paul Stanhope’s works often have dense harmonic ideas, but here, there’s a constant sense of lightness – both in the musicianship of the Sydney Chamber Choir and in these eloquent melodic ideas.

Paul Stanhope has collaborated with the Sydney Chamber Choir many times (so much so that he was their musical director for a while). Straight away, you can feel the choir’s ease with Stanhope’s style. There are some fiendishly difficult moments in these works, but they seem to handle them effortlessly, bringing out Stanhope’s distinctive choral style. This choir often specialises in baroque repertoire. Here, there’s a light touch throughout the works that otherwise could have become stodgy in the concentrated harmonies.

I’m going to listen again with the original texts in front of me, along with translations, because I think there’s more to learn about each of these works. I’ve listened to almost all of Stanhope’s recorded works and I find something new to discover with each subsequent hearing. This complex and fascinating exploration of different texts from across the world (and through the ages) almost needs repeat listens to truly understand and appreciate all it has to offer.

Kate Rockstrom is a friend of Readings.