Record Review: Magnificat - Clive Osgood

Clive Osgood's Magnificat, released by Convivium Records in May 2024, represents a contemporary yet respectful take on the traditional Latin Magnificat text, paying homage to J.S. Bach’s famous Magnificat (BWV 243) while infusing it with the composer’s own unique voice. This recording features Excelsis Chamber Choir, soprano Amy Carson, and the London Mozart Players, under the adept direction of Robert Lewis.

Excelsis, a highly regarded choir currently in residence with Grayshott Concerts, are known for their precision and emotive performances in renowned locations such as Westminster Abbey, with this recording marking their second collaboration in the recording studio with the London Mozart Players and Clive Osgood. The London Mozart Players, one of the UK's leading chamber orchestras, bring their characteristic elegance and energy to the project, and Amy Carson, an internationally acclaimed soprano, adds a layer of vocal brilliance that enhances the overall impact of the work.


The opening track, Magnificat, anima mea, serves as an overture, introducing the grandeur and complexity of Osgood's setting. The piece begins with a grand introduction before transitioning into a faster section with intricate fugal textures. The driving, syncopated 3-3-2 accompaniment in the string section hints at Osgood’s Latin American rhythmic influences, which is refreshing to hear in choral church music. The interplay between the choir and orchestra here is masterful, with Excelsis delivering a robust and dynamic performance that is both thrilling and deeply moving. This track sets the stage for the rest of the album, showcasing Osgood's ability to combine traditional forms with modern harmonic and rhythmic innovations.

The second track, Et exultavit spiritus, introduces soprano Amy Carson with a sophisticated and soothing solo. Here Osgood has transformed the Gregorian plainchant ‘tonus peregrinus’ used by Bach into a rhythmic dance, with a slightly oscillating/swaying feel in the accompaniment. Carson's voice is both agile and expressive, soaring elegantly in the ascending figures, capturing the joyful essence of the text, “and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour”. Her performance, paired with the understated rhythmic vitality of the accompaniment, creates a standout moment on the album.

In the third movement, Quia respexit, Osgood again employs the first phrase of the ‘tonus peregrinus’ this time as a ground bass in a chaconne. This compound time, dance-like structure allows for some graceful dovetailing as the melody is handed between upper and lower voices within the choir. The increasing intensity and transition between legato and staccato melodies throughout the piece is compelling, building to a powerful climax that showcases the choir’s emotional range and technical skill. Excelsis's performance is particularly poignant, with their voices weaving together to create a rich, resonant aural tapestry. This track is a testament to Osgood's ability to draw deep emotional responses from both the performers and the listeners.

For the sake of brevity, I shall speed up here, but encourage you to listen to the final four movements on the album. Et misericordia features two gentle themes that merge into a serene conclusion. Fecit potentiam presents a dynamic, forceful choral performance, maintaining suitable tension for ‘he hath put down the mighty’. Esurientes implevit offers a soothing resolution to the previous movement, with a duet between the soprano and flute. The concluding track, Suscepit Israel, revisits the ‘tonus peregrinus', building in intensity before calming and leading into the grand finale, ‘Glory be to the Father’.


This collaboration between Osgood, Excelsis, Amy Carson, and the London Mozart Players has resulted in a recording that is both innovative and deeply moving, and Osgood’s ability to blend traditional and modern elements, along with the exceptional performances by all involved, makes this album a superb addition to a choral enthusiast’s collection.

The album is available in CD and hi-res digital form from Convivium Records, as well as on all major streaming platforms. Do also check out the video showing the recording process at St John the Evangelist church, London.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published

Featured products

Dali Katch G2 Portable SpeakerDali Katch G2 Portable Speaker
Dali Dali Katch G2 Portable Speaker
Available to order
Rega System One™Rega System One™
Rega Rega System One™
In stock
Save 10%
JVC EXOFIELD XP-EXT1 Immersive Wireless HeadphonesJVC EXOFIELD XP-EXT1 Immersive Wireless Headphones