ENGLAND'S MOST FAMOUS CHURCH CHOIR PRESENTS AN EXCELLENT COMPILATION!
This two CD two hour thirty-two minute recording was releaed by EMI Classics in July, 2009. It includes a wide variety of mostly sacred music that offers motets, ancient and modern, well-known psalms and favorite hymns and pieces made recognisable through their association with key English historical events. The majority of the selections are conducted by Stephen Cleobury (conductor of the choir since 1982), several by David Willcocks (1957-1973) and only two by Philip Ledger (1974-1982). Since all the selections are listed on the website I will mention only some of them in order to make you aware that they do fall into certain categories, although not as they are presented on the recordings.
There are, for example, many old favorite traditional hymns such as : 'All People that on Earth do Dwell'(Vaughan Williams arrangement of the Old Hundredth), 'Abde with Me', 'Praise my soul, the king of Heaven'. Also we hear from Evensong 'Drop, drop slow tears' and 'The Day that thou gavest Lord, is ended'.
Such Liturgical Pieces as: Rutter's 'Pie Jesu & Requiem aeternam', Byrd's 'Ave Verum Corpus' and Britten's 'Jubilate Deo'. One of my personal favorites is Vaughan William's great 'Mass in G minor' represented here by the stunningly beautiful 'Kyrie'.
Of course, one might expect to hear something from that honorary Englishman, Handel, and his 'Zadok the Priest' opens up CD 1 in a glorious fashion. Another Coronation anthem is Parry's 'I was glad' and his ever-popular 'Jerusalem'. Holst is well represented by his patriotic 'I Vow to thee, o country'.
Some others that I take note of for the mellifluous sound and moving interpretation on the part of the choir: Tallis' exquisite 'O Nata Lux de Lumine'. There are a few non-sacred pieces, two of which are: Purcell's 'Come Ye sons of Art' and Delius' 'To be sung on the Water'.
This is indeed a compilation of some of the greatest and most uplifting music written in England and performed by the country's most skilled church choir. I found it difficult, though I was familiar with all of the selections that are on various recordings, to absorb the entire recordings at one time; it's a lot of music, and if you are not familiar with some of them, perhaps listening in small doses is best; but to each his own listening way!
QUOTATION FROM GRAMOPHONE: " I readily admit to being moved to tears on first hearing this disc (Credo), and innumerable playing subsequently have not fully innured me from the emotional impact of these intense performances of profoundly beautiful music."
I was not moved to tears, but it is nonetheless a superior collection, and is a good representation of the varied performance through the years of this amazing consistently fine choir.