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In Paradisum
Artist: David Fitzgerald
Label: Ebb & Flow / ICC
Length: 47 tracks / 3 hours 47 min.
This straight four-disc collection of all the Iona co-founder's solo work aims to 'reveal something of the mystery, beauty, and love of God' and succeeds on each score.
Columcille is a typical first solo effort, releasing a varied range of pieces that did not make Iona discs. He nods to Vaughan-Williams  and Debussy, reprises the sounds of his Iona sax solos, and only sounds weak when he backs a cheap sounding version of "Were You There?" His soaring saxophone treatment of "O come, O Come Immanuel" is glorious.
Lux Aeterna (reviewed elsewhere on this site) is a stately disc, which follows the life of Christ with musical symmetry and a more choral feel. It beautifully captures nuances of the Easter story, which centres the collection.
Breath of Heaven (also reviewed here) is a more even, totally instrumental set, mesmerising in its beauty. While its easiness does bring it dangerously close to muzak in places, it does not cross that line, but leaves you peaceful, rather than vacant.
The fourth disc, God Is Love, follows the pattern of Breath of Heaven very closely, in its beauty, technical quality and mood as it takes the listener to a chilled space before upping the pace at the very end.
As a whole, the box shows Fitzgerald's musical roots (Tallis,  Hildegard Von Bingen) and showcases his friends on the journey, particularly Adrian Snell, Tim Oliver and Graham Kendrick.
There are no bonus tracks, alternative takes or musical extras, but with almost four hours of quality creative and contemplative music priced at little over that for a single CD, this is already exceptional value.
For anyone who appreciates  calming and spiritually-charged flute and sax music, this is a wonderfully prayerful set that will delight and pacify year after year.
Derek Walker



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