Search - Charles Villiers Stanford, Jonathan Harvey, Edward Elgar :: The English Anthem, Vol. 6

The English Anthem, Vol. 6
Charles Villiers Stanford, Jonathan Harvey, Edward Elgar
The English Anthem, Vol. 6
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #1


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CD Reviews

A Mixed Bag, but a good one
Mark Swinton | 05/02/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The St. Paul's Cathedral Choir, like the Westminster and Winchester Cathedral Choirs, has a long-standing and fruitful contract with Hyperion, and has produced a number of recordings including this on-going series. Any of volume in "The English Anthem" is a prime example of the standards of the Choir, as well as showing just what range of styles exists within the genre.On this disc, a particularly varied programme is presented, including such popular Victorian and neo-Victorian figures as Harris ("Strengthen ye the weak hands"), Stanford ("For lo, I raise up") and Parry ("My soul, there is a country"), each typical in his own way through these anthems. There are also a number of offerings from the twentieth century, and these too are broad-ranging in terms of style and the levels of skill needed to make them work. Tippett's rare gem "Plebs angelica" strikes an austere and exultant note; Bairstow's "If the Lord had not helped me" is a sombre, calm and reverent piece; Elgar's "Ave verum corpus" is simplicity itself. The series also appears to be a forum for the Choir to show off the various offerings written for them- amongst these are the short setting "Let thy hand be strengthened" by former organist Christopher Dearnley, the "Three Antiphons" of John Tavener and by far the most difficult and unusual work on the disc (both to perform and to listen to): "Dum transisset Sabbatum" by Jonathan Harvey.This is indeed a mixed bag, and for that reason I have given it four stars as it may not be wholly to everyone's liking. Whatever one's taste, however, one thing is certain: every work on here is brilliantly and sensitively performed, under the direction of John Scott. Throughout, the choir prove their unique ability to fill the magnificent acoustics of their home. (It should be appreciated that just because a building is very resonant, that does not make it easy to sing in!) Listening to any track really does give you the feel of what it must be like every day in St. Paul's when the anthem of the day is announced. A treasure trove of choral gems that you'll want to go back to again and again- and whether or not you decide to collect the whole "English Anthem" series, it is still worth having one of these records around."