Rise Up Luca Brugnoli (treble) Convivium Records

Luca Brugnoli (treble)
Rise Up
Alice Platten (soprano)
The Hennessey Brown Collective/Robert Lewis
rec. 2022/23 at Charterhouse School Chapel, Godalming, UK

Luca Brugnoli is a twelve-year-old chorister with a remarkable voice of singular purity. He was Runner-up in BBC Young Chorister 2022 and has won numerous awards at local music festivals. This is his first solo album and it represents a considerable achievement. The tone and intonation are beyond reproach, but the only criticism that I would make, and I am not sure that it is an entirely fair one given the singer’s age and experience, is that, at present, there does not seem to have been sufficient attention paid to the matter of diction. Edward Bairstow defined singing as ‘speech beautified’ and while the sound is beguiling, without the ability to make the actual words of the texts expressive, the musical experience is lacking a significant dimension. Further, given that the texts have not been provided as part of the written material that accompanies the disc, this rather underlines the problem.

I would have also preferred a less miscellaneous approach to the question of programme-building. Hurford’s Litany to the Holy Spirit is here rubbing shoulders with Don Mclean’s Vincent and Franck’s Panis Angelicus and as a consequence the listening experience is somewhat compromised. This is not a question of musical snobbery; each item is, for the most part, an excellent example of a particular genre, but presenting them together does not make a satisfying unity. 

I should stress that there is much to enjoy on this disc and that Luca Brugnoli, having already achieved a great deal, will doubtless go on to achieve more. I look forward to his next recording.

Martyn Strachan

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Lift the Wings – Bill Whelan (arr. Robert Lewis)
O Quam Tristis – Clive Osgood
The Glitt’ring Sun – Thomas Arne
Ave Maria – Michal Lorenc (arr. Dominic Sewell)
Rise Up – Cassandra Batie
Irish Blessing – Bob Chilcott (arr. Simon Lole)
Fields of Gold – Gordon Sumner (arr. Dominic Sewell)
Be still for the presence of the Lord – David J. Evans (arr. Simon Lole)
Litany to the Holy Spirit – Peter Hurford
Pie Jesu – Andrew Lloyd Webber (arr. Simon Lole)
Vincent – Don McLean (arr. Benjamin Pope)
Panis Angelicus – César Franck (arr. Matthew Coleridge)
The Lord bless you and keep you – John Rutter
Both sides now – Joni Mitchell (arr. Dominic Sewell)
Ave Verum Corpus – W. A. Mozart
The Rose – Amanda McBroom