Mark Swinton | 01/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This third volume in the extremely successful "English Anthem" series stands out as being one of the best programmes devised for it.St. Paul's Cathedral Choir recorded it at about the same time that they made their Kenneth Leighton disc, hence the featured treble soloist on both is Thomas Colwell. His voice is particularly arresting, for instance, at the opening of Thomas Attwood's "Come, Holy Ghost" - by far the simplest work on the disc, within the grasp of even the smallest of choirs. At the other end of the spectrum is Robert Saxton's "At the round earth's imagined corners," commissioned by the choir in the early 90s, which is surprisingly effective and accessible compared to some of his (and his contemporaries) other works. As always with this series, the choir make these contrasted simple and complex works sound effortless.Other works on the programme include Basil Harwood's "O how glorious is the Kingdom," William Harris's evergreen "Faire is the heaven," William Walton's exquisite and much-loved setting of "Set me as a seal" and one of Hubert Parry's "Songs of Farewell" - in this case, "There is an old belief." John Tavener's "Hymn to the Mother of God" makes a good impression here, although it's a pity that it's companion "Hymn for the Dormition of the Mother of God" is absent - the two are always presented together on recordings and were first performed together liturgically. "Turn back, O man" by Gustav Holst receives a most stirring rendition. The disc ends with Edward Elgar's very fine, cantata-like setting of Psalm 29, "Give unto the Lord," written for first performance at St. Paul's and sounding particularly glorious in the vast resonance of the building under the care of John Scott and his forces.A worthy companion to the others in the series: well-recorded, beautifully performed and ingeniously devised. This is cathedral music at its best."