Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Healey Willan, Choirs of Church of St Mary, Bell|
Tenebrae / Responsaries / Missae Breves
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
Listen to Samples
FrKurt Messick | Bloomington, IN USA | 08/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
Willan (1880-1968) was a Canadian organist and composer, known for secular and religious music. Willan's liturgical setting were often used at my old church, the same settings often used at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Toronto, where this performance was recorded. Despite his job as a choirmaster/organist at St. Paul's church (an evangelical, low church), he became interested in high church/Anglo-Catholic liturgical expression, and eventually ended up at St. Mary Magdalene. Among his many compositions (more than 800 in all) is an anthem for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and received numerous civic and church honours for his work. A plaque in his honour was unveiled at the parish by HM The Queen Mother in 1988 during the parish's centennial events.
These Tenebrae services are Holy Week services; the first here is sung on the Wednesday evening before Maundy Thursday. The service generally begins in light and ends in darkness - tenebrae means 'darkness' - and symbolises the encroaching darkness of Good Friday in the historical and liturgical progression through Holy Week. There is a Tenebrae here also for Good Friday and Holy Saturday, again each done the night before. Included in the pieces here are two hymns that might be sung by the congregation on these times, done in plainsong or alternating plainchant/polyphonic pattern.
There are several missae breves (brief masses) here - included in the collection are numbers 2, 5, 7 (Western Wind), 8 (Sts. Philip and Jacob), and 13 (Holy Cross). These are short (according to Bell, Willan used a stopwatch for timing), and fall well into standard practices for Anglo-Catholic worship both in the early part of the twentieth century, and hold up to the changing liturgical patterns in the later half of the century. They are all full of grace and craftsmanship without being overdone - they have a serenity and spirituality unique to themselves.
Bell's notes in the CD are wonderful, a personal reflection of Willan's time at the parish as well as analysis of his music. He writes, 'The liturgical music he [Willan] composed for St. Mary Magdalene's was always modest and never drew attention to itself, yet it conveyed the meaning of the words, giving them new depth and perspective.' Bell gives good insight into the music, too, and there are brief biographies of Bell and the choirs given here.
The Choirs of St. Mary Magdalene, Toronto, have produced a dozen or so recordings under the direction of Robert Hunter Bell and his predecessor in the post of choirmaster, Giles Bryant.
This is a beautiful recording of wonderful music, a thrill to the ear and the spirit.
Magnificent choral masterpiece
dona cocchia | phila, pa United States | 11/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"this is truly the most remarkable blend of voices and 'voicings"of music i have ever heard-holy thursday or maundy thursday is such a sacred time in the christian liturgical year-this album brings that sacredity into your soul while it is being played-it also has what i would call healing powers for the spirit-it will take you to a place you need to be.incredible."