'One gorgeous piece after another... L'Estrange is a many-sided composer with prodigious gifts... an album I will return to again and again...' (John Rutter)
'Alexander L'Estrange's music is approachable and highly popular yet, at the same time, beautifully crafted and full of integrity' (Simon Halsey)
Out on Signum Classics is Alexander L'Estrange's debut sacred choral album 'On Eagles' Wings', in stunning performances by award-winning chamber choir, Tenebrae. For those who know L'Estrange for his community choral works, this new collection shows a whole other side to his diverse creative output. The album launched on 7 April with a concert at St James' Church, Spanish Place in London, where Tenebrae performed the whole album to a packed audience. Tracks were immediately picked up by Classic FM and have since received over 30,000 views each on its social media platforms.
The album launched on 7 April (Alexander's birthday) with a concert at St James' Church, Spanish Place in London, where Tenebrae performed the whole album to a packed audience. Highlights from the concert can be seen in this introductory video:
Tracks from the album were soon picked up by Classic FM and have been attracting airplay ever since, with this one of God Be In My Head receiving 30,000 views:
We're delighted to say that all the sheet music from the album has been neatly gathered together into one place within the composer's webshop.
'Alexander L'Estrange's work always has an improvisational ease as well as dark authority, as befits a sometimes jazz bassist. This mixed programme of sacred works somewhat confounds the New-Age-y title. It's a typical mix of vernacular and high sources, from the Irish Blessing at the end to the magnificent 'Nunc Dimittis' for the New College Service. Tenebrae live up to their name... a rich, full-bottomed sound that finds the tragic mode in various prayers for peace and the exceptional My Song Is Love Unknown. Vivid, varied and completely satisfying.'
Choir & Organ (Brian Morton), July/August 2016
'... a whole programme of his works is a welcome opportunity to listen beyond his ubiquitous Zimbe!. In his booklet notes L'Estrange tells how he got in trouble as a treble for adding a ninth to the final chord of Howells' A Spotless Rose. It's a perfect musical symbol of L'Estrange's own works, which add a jazz-infused chordal depth and a roving harmonic eye to Howells' declamatory muscularity and modal palette. Its attractive, approachable music, with nothing contrived or patronising about it. Standouts include the New College Service (ecstatic clustery beauty) and the simplicity of his Panis angelicus. This is sacred music written to be used and Tenebrae make excellent advocates for it.'
Gramophone (Lis Lân), June 2016
'... a composer whose work crosses the boundaries between classical and jazz... L'Estrange manages to combine a finely crafted English late-Romantic style with some luscious harmonies which reflect his jazz interests... Harmonies are rich and lush reminding us of Howells on steroids...
On the showing of this disc, Alexander L'Estrange is the go-to person for evocative and striking small-scale new commissions, something lyrically attractive with some luscious harmonies. His world is of course wider than this, but the disc only gives us glimpses. Each item is perfectly lovely with the fine performances of Tenebrae giving us plenty of magical moments...'
Planet Hugill (Robert Hugill), April 2016
'... The New College Service, composed to mark the retirement of Edward Higginbottom, is very effective... it displays a series of beautiful, very effective harmonies, and the 'Nunc Dimittis' has a beautiful bed of sound supporting it....
On Eagles' Wings, the title track, is a picture of the renewal of strength, drawn from several passages in the Bible which refer to this theme. The music has an exhilarating agility to it, the high voices seeming to spiral upwards like the energy they are depicting. L'Estrange's take on My Song is Love Unknown is structured not unlike Britten's Hymn to Saint Cecilia: as the choir sings the English text of Crossman's hymn, broadly to its familiar melody by John Ireland, a quartet of soloists comments on the text in Latin... very effective, and its rhapsodic music casts its own spell, especially in its gorgeous final stanza...
Tenebrae are clearly fans of this music, and it's great to hear them giving as much to the music of a contemporary composer as they customarily do to composers who have been in the canon for a few centuries already. Definitely worth exploring.'
MusicWeb International (Simon Thompson), July 2016