Gracejoy | New York, NY United States | 12/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first reviewer gave a very accurate and detailed review so I will not be redundant and repeat him too much here, except to reiterate that this is a lovely collection of music from great composers, performed one of the best cathedral choirs in the world today. The selections are almost entirely late 19th and 20th century pieces--and as a special fan of earlier cathedral music I was not sure whether I would enjoy them--but I certainly do. There are some upbeat, modern-sounding pieces along with more traditional hymn-sounding pieces to please fans of both. Most pieces are accompanied by the organ (which is thankfully not overly loud), but there are also a few lovely a cappella ones. The choir certainly "has itself together", so to speak, and each piece is performed with precision, clarity, and feeling. The CD also includes one very interesting organ solo.Of all the sixteen selections, I particularly like Stewart's "The Lord is My Shepherd", which I find to be extremely moving, and Allegri's oft-sung but very lovely "Miserere Mei", with talented Jeremy Budd as the treble soloist. Connor Burrowes, with whom I became familiar through his wonderful "Consort Songs" recording with the Amsterdam Stardust Loeki Quartet, also has a treble solo on this recording (Mendelssohn's "I waited for the Lord").I recommend this CD without reservation to those interested in the composers, cathedral music, St. Paul's Cathedral Choir, or the sound of men and boys' choirs in general."
The musical offerings of St. Paul's Cathedral
Mark Swinton | 09/24/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're curious about St. Paul's Cathedral Choir and the music they sing, but are overwhelmed by the size of their discography, then this is the CD for you. Having released a sample disc for Westminster Cathedral Choir over a year ago, Hyperion have done the same for the St. Paul's Choir, with which they have a very fruitful relationship. Having sung there myself (as part of a visiting choir this summer when the cathedral choir itself was on holiday) I am well aware of the vast resonance and sheer splendour of the building. Such a building needs a robust group of singers to lead the worship therein- to that end, the St. Paul's Choir is endowed with thirty-six boy choristers and eighteen men, considerably more than at any other English cathedral. This, coupled with the splendid direction they have had over the last decade or so from John Scott, makes them a choir capable of tackling nearly all types of choral music, from Renaissance motets to contemporary anthems commissioned specially for them. Their two on-going series with Hyperion, "Psalms from St. Paul's" and "The English Anthem," are by far the best examples of what they can do, and this disc includes excerpts from those two large series. In addition, there are hymns, canticles and organ works, all drawn from a large number of discs recorded by Hyperion over the past decade, with organists including Christopher Dearnley and John Scott himself. The programme is thus rich and satisfying; the ever-popular Allegri "Miserere" is here (with treble soloist Jeremy Budd) as is Stanford's celebrated Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in C and Henry Balfour-Gardiner's "Evening Hymn," all sounding spectacular and powerful in the cathedral's acoustics. Quieter moments reveal the choir's sensitivity, however: a beautiful moment comes near the end of the programme with John Rutter's exquisite setting of "God be in my head."It's worth pointing out that whilst most reviewers have nothing but praise for St. Paul's, some have mixed opinions, and I happen to be one of them. Sometimes, I have listened to a St. Paul's recording and come away with the impression that there was too much vibrato in the male voices, or that the trebles were too reedy, or for that matter that the choice of music could have been a little better. Still, on the whole I rather like the sound of St. Paul's Cathedral Choir - when they are at their best, which is more often than not, they have the power to exhilarate the mind and soul. For me, this is a very spiritual experience to have, and I'm sure other listeners will agree with me. Whichever reviewer (in Gramophone, I believe) stated that St. Paul's is the King of Cathedral Choirs certainly had a good point..."
Allegri's Miserere, secret of the Popes.
Frank T. Manheim | Fairfax VA | 01/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For readers who may not be familiar with it, the story of Gregorio Allegri's nine-voice Misere must be one of the notable dramas in music history. In 1629 Allegri (1582-1652) was called to the chapel of Pope Urban VIII as a singer and composer. There he composed the Miserere for exclusive performance in the Sistine Chapel. So highly was this work regarded by successor Popes, that copying of the score was forbidden for more than 100 years. The story goes that young Mozart, visiting Rome, heard the work, and with his inimitable musical memory, was able to copy out the entire score. Whatever the truth of that story, Allegri's work makes striking use of boy singers. The work reaches a climax with a high solo by the boy sopranos, soaring over the remainder of the choir. The listener instinctively prepares for relaxation of the tension when unexpectedly, as if from nowhere, an even higher, piercing solo flight startles us. When boy singers (only boys could be considered to perform the soprano roles)hit the opening entry precisely and powerfully, the effect is electric. It's as though "Have mercy on us" is the uttermost soul-cry of the penitent."
LACK OF DICTION?!!!
Frank T. Manheim | 11/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Obviously the individual who wrote the review including the "marred by lack of diction" remark is not too familiar with the traditional boychoir sound. I am moved to sickness that they were so openly compared with the sound of the all-too-familiar MTC. THOSE WERE ADULTS!!! These are boys! Boys cannot give the kind of sound of the MTC because their voices are not developed enough. The greatest hope a boychoir has of wowing audiences is in their contrast in dynamics. They model this beautiffully in their acapella pieces. In their accompanied pieces, I feel they hold their own above the (sometimes blearing) organ.
Know the genre a little better before you slander a great performance."
Excellent Cathedral Organ & Choral
Elliott Cole Ax | Denver, Colorado USA | 02/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This selection of recordings by The Choir of St. Paul's Cathedral contains pieces representative of traditional Anglican musical liturgy. The technical aspects of this production on compact disk seem to be outstanding, but beware that the original recordings were in some cases less than stellar. Another reviewer points out that on some tracks the lyrics sung by the choir are overwhelmed by the superb organ playing, which no doubt occurred due to inadequate microphone placement during the recording sessions. That said, I nevertheless rate this presentation of the St. Paul's Choir highly. It provides a mixture of musical types. In addition to the choir, the CD presents the work of four organists, including a marvelous organ solo, as well as several pieces sung a cappella by the choir and its boy treble soloists. I especially recommend this choir's rendetion of Gregorio Allegri's "Miserere," which features the voices of two boy trebles, a boy alto and a bass, which yeilds a mesmerizing experience. Unless one is acquiring full sets of the St. Paul's Choir's music, this compact disk should delight anyone interested in traditional cathedral organ and choral music."