Ancient & Modern

Anne Dudley

The Echo Label, ECHCD3, 1995
1. Canticle of the Sun and the Moon *****
2. Veni Sancte Spiritus ****
3. Communion ****
4. Veni Emmanuel *****
5. Tallis' Canon *****
6. The Holly and the Ivy *****
7. Coventry Carol *****
8. Prelude [Prelude in B flat minor, from the 48 book 1] ****
9. Three Chorales in common time ****
      a. Vater unser im Himmelreich ****
      b. Freut euch, ihr Christen ****
      c. Jesu meine Freude  ****

Composed by Anne Dudley, except (8) by J.S. Bach.
(1) based on a 1623 melody by Geistliche Kirchenesang; words from Isaac Watts (1674-1748), from Psalm 117
(4) based on an 1856 melody from Hymnal Noted, from a French missal; words from J.M. Neale (1818-1866)
(5) based on a melody by Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585); words from Thomas Ken (1637-1711)
(6) based on the melody from the traditional English carol
(7) based on a traditional 16th C. melody; words from "The Pageant of the Shearmen and Sailors" (15th C.)

Arranged by Anne Dudley
Orchestra led by Gavyn Wright
Choir managed by The Sixteen Ltd.

(1) Percussion: Frank Riccotti, Gary Kettel. Harp: Skaila Kanga
(9a) Solo violins: Gavyn Wright, Jim McLeod. Solo cello: Anthony Pleeth

Recorded April-June 1994
Produced by Anne Dudley

Splashes of red depict a cathedral interior on the CD case artwork. As a modern interpretation of ancient architecture, like the title, it tells us of the music contained. Anne Dudley, doyenne of hundreds of pop songs' string arrangements (including ABC, Pulp, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Pet Shop Boys, Rush and Tina Turner) and half of post-modernist Art of Noise, gives us an album rooted in music several centuries before.

Traditional instrumentation leads on most of the album, ranging from choral ("Veni Sancte Spiritus") to organ-based ("Communion"), but Dudley also mixes in modern synths. These blend well with the orchestra, such that I was often at a loss as to which sounds were from which. Abundant in bass sounds, the feel is thus vaguely like Chris Squire's organ-rich and church music-inspired Fish Out of Water.

The more 'modern' tracks add minimal percussion and synth work to emphasise melody, giving a jaunty sound, yet an air of solemnity still remains as well, as throughout the whole album. "The Holly and the Ivy", for example, becomes vaguely Nyman-esque and is quite distant from the original tune. I always found "Veni Emmanuel" powerful as a hymn and Dudley has added to that with a modern rhythmic sensibility: not all that subtle, but effective.

Tuned percussion and horns playing percussively give "Canticles of the Sun and the Moon" a feel approaching synth-pop. However, a faux ending leads into a string/percussion coda; reminiscent of Adiemus' Songs of Sanctuary here, perhaps because of Frank Riccotti, who played percussion on that album too. Harpist Skaila Kanga also played on Jon Anderson's Change We Must.

More subtle pieces grew on me slower: this is dark, sombre and even dramatic music echoing much 20th century classical music in sensibility, while keeping to a style largely from 16th-17th century music. One such piece is "Coventry Carol", a title which suggests reference to the tremendous bombing suffered by the city during the war, the lyrics lamenting Herod's massacre of children as a metaphor.

Much of the supporting cast have lengthy pop backgrounds—Riccotti has played all over the place; Gavyn Wright appears as Gavin Wright, the orchestra leader on Tina Turner's recent Wildest Dreams—in addition to Dudley's own background. Yet, despite this, the 'modern' in 'ancient and modern' embraces modern classical styles as much as modern pop.

Henry Potts, 23 Jun 97

Originally posted to,,,,, and

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