MV CD coverThere is something remarkably reassuring about the warmth of Michael John Trotta’s devotional music. Born in 1978, Trotta obtained a Doctorate in choral conducting from Louisiana State University, and there is certainly no doubting his expertise when it comes to choral writing. His way with the choir is ever grateful (as is his writing for the small instrumental groups).

He takes texts from a variety of sources, some over 500 years old (the second piece, In the Present Moment ), some substantially more ( Veni, Veni, Emanuel ). In fact the setting of the latter is one of the finest moments on the disc. Dynamic choir meets percussion in a most exciting rhythmic spin on a very familiar melody.

The choir (Mystical Voices Chorale) is faultless, perfectly balanced, and evidently completely behind the sentiments expressed here. Perhaps there is a touch too much reverberation to the recording at times ( Adam lay ybounden being a case in point), which can give the impression of the experience being wrapped in cotton wool.

The song I will keep still is with the choir Floreat, beautifully phrased and given with heartfelt honesty. If the title Hidden in Plain Sight promises more than it delivers (closely recorded piano, flute, and high voices give the impression of a Christian school assembly), the use of a more explicitly church-like sonority for the choir-only Veni, Creator Spirituslends more depth to the experience. The “remix” with its beatbox and sheaf of electronic effects has an appeal, however short-lasting.

The sentiments of this disc are eminently laudable. I quote the composer from the disc case: “The overall effect of great music is that it allows both the performers and the listeners to reflect in a way that engenders thoughtful presence, one that makes no demands other than the participant be present to what is happening around them.” If the music itself does not quite live up to these ideals, it remains a refreshing, enjoyable experience. Colin Clarke