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Classical Music Review

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The Tower and the Garden


Composers: Gregory Spears, Joel Puckett and Toivo Tulev
Conductor: Donald Nally
Performed by: The Crossing
Label: Navona Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 12 February 2021

The Crossing perform works by three composers on The Tower and the Garden. The album explores the fragility of the earth, the awe of nature, and the power of language to unite, or divide, society...

On The Tower and the Garden, The Crossing commissioned Gregory Spears, Joel Puckett, and Toivo Tulev for this widely varied collection that draws on the words and poetry of Keith Garebian, Denise Levertov, Thomas Merton, the Botswanan shaman Kxao =Oah, and Walt Whitman.

Tulev’s 'A Child Said, What is the Grass?' is a haunting rumination on death. Spears’s, four-part 'The Tower and the Garden' is a choral work that at times is hymnlike, at others is an exuberant study on the collision of religion, technology, and conservation. Puckett’s 'I Enter the Earth​' is a mediation on transformation and the coming together of body and spirit into oneness.

This is a choral work that is constantly transforming. If you're not familiar with The Crossing's output, or are on the fence when it comes to choral performances, then you're probably best advised to start with track 5: 'The Tower and the Garden - IV. 80'. This is the accessible to a newcomer and represents the most melodic and emotive piece on the album.

Once again The Crossing deliver a thing of pure beauty. It's spiritual, uplifting and timeless. Pretty much flawless.

Track listing

Toivo Tulev
01 - A Child Said, What is the Grass?​ (2015) (15:25)

Gregory Spears
The Tower and the Garden​ (2018)
02 - I. 80 (5:34)
03 - II. In the Land of Shinar (9:23)
04 - III. Dungeness Documentary (7:22)
05 - IV. 80 (12:34)

Joel Puckett
06 - I Enter the Earth​ (2015) (15:37)


Darren Rea

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