- Missa Brevis, for 12 voices
- The Doctrine of Similarity, for choir
- Two Marian Motets, for choir
- Stelae for Failed Time, for choir
Anyone acquainted with the intensely complicated instrumental music of Brian Ferneyhough might expect his choral works to be composed in a similar vein, rife with angular lines, fragmented pitch groups, harsh effects, dissonant textures, and dense ensemble scoring. Such expectations are fully met in the four works on this 2007 release on Metier, and listeners may count Ferneyhough's "Missa Brevis" (1969), "The Doctrine of Similarity" (1999-2000), "Two Marian Motets" (1966-2002), and "Stelae for Failed Time" (2001) as extreme examples of avant-garde choral writing and accept or reject them according to taste. The performances by the BBC Singers and the instrumental group Lontano, directed by Odaline de la Martinez, are apparently well-rehearsed and accurate, but Ferneyhough's disjointed choral music is unsettling in mood and abrasive in tone. As much as one may admire the performers for their valiant efforts, the music still comes across as severe and unpleasant, and only Ferneyhough's most stalwart fans would give this disc a full hearing. For those who are truly adventurous, "Stelae for Failed Time" also includes a backing of electronic sounds, which work rather well with the scattered vocalizations that otherwise would seem merely like nonsensical chatter. The recording by BBC Radio 3 is clear and transparent in all details, so the intricacies of these pieces are plainly audible, and the resonant recording space lends the voices depth and an attractive luster.