CDs December 2017 – 1

TENORS UnLIMITED: The Journey
TUNLCD05

Forget opera – think Rat Pack – but then think opera when it comes to quality of voices and an ability to sing convincingly in a range of languages. Add to this a dynamic ability to belt popular numbers with enthusiasm but sing reflective songs with pathos. The Journey brings together a very diverse range of music from West Side Story to O Sole Mio taking in a generous collection along the way.

Scott Ciscon, Paul Martin and Jem Sharples have a deservedly strong reputation and this is certainly born out in this recording. The arrangements are always apt with an intimacy often missing in popular recordings. I really liked their version La Mer, sung for most of the time in French, before the more familiar Somewhere beyond the sea.

If you are reading this before 16 Dec – then you can catch them at Opus Theatre in Hastings on that day. If they can fill the Royal Albert Hall, they can surely do the same closer to home.  A real Christmas treat!

 

JS BACH FROM DURHAM
James Lancelot, organ of Durham Cathedral
PRIORY PRCD 1179

James Lancelot is perfectly at ease with music and instrument in this fine recording from Durham. Opening with Toccata, Adagio & Fugue in C and including the Prelude & Fugue in A (BWV 536) the rest of the programme features less familiar settings of chorale material by Bach. These include the Kanonische Veranderungen on Von Himmel Hoch(BWV 769) and the lengthy Partite on Sei gegrusset, Jesu gutig (BWV 768). A pleasing programme.

MESSIAEN – LA NATIVITE DU SEIGNEUR / LE BANQUET  CELESTE
Colin Walsh, organ of Lincoln Cathedral
PRIORY PRCD 1194

A good pairing of familiar music makes this a welcome disc. The fact that this was recorded live at a performance in the cathedral adds something to this listening experience.

GRANDE SYMPHONIE
David Leigh, organ of St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork
PRIORY PRCD 1190

This very enjoyable CD pairs recordings of two symphonic works – Franck’s Grande piece symphonique with Lemare’s Symphony No 2 in D minor, Op 50. Both works suit this less familiar cathedral organ, rebuilt in 2013. Shorter 20th century works by Fernando Germani, Jonathtan T Horne & Eoghan Desmond make up the rest of the inventive programme splendidly performed by David Leigh.

ORGAN PARTY
Kevin Bowyer, organ of Glasgow University Memorial Chapel
PRIORY PRCD 1171

I really enjoyed this very eclectic disc. Kevin Bowyer has amassed a wonderful assortment of unusual 20th Century pieces, many in a more light-hearted vein. Included are Martin Stacey’s Little Stanmore Suite (including the movement Ach, mein wig hast blown off!) & The Naughty Boy by Paul Fisher, inspired in part by Monty Python. There are two hymn/spiritual arrangements by Mons Leidvin Takle, The Lord Warden’s Rondo by one-time organist of St Mary’s Rye, Charles Proctor and a lovely arrangement of Bucolosi’s The Grasshoppers’ Dance. I was particularly pleased to find included here Nos 3 & 4 (!) of Peter Warlock’s Two Cod Pieces. Oh, and I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts!!
Who says that organists can’t let their hair down?

MUSIC FOR SUNDAY
Choir of Salisbury Cathedral, director David Halls, organist John Challenger
PRIORY PRCD 1173

This is a lovely recording of the Cathedral Choir singing contemporary and older service music. David Halls’ own Missa Festiva & Will Todd’s Shorter(Evening) Service are joined by a lengthy anthem by Howard Moody, In the hand of God. There are shorter works by Richard Shephard and Thomas Tallis, traditional Anglican chants for Psalms 82, 84 & 85, morning canticles by Purcell & two traditional hymns. This is a timely reminder of the quality and variety of choral worship being offered week by week.

GREAT HYMNS FROM LIVERPOOL
Choir of Liverpool Cathedral, director David Poulter, organ Ian Tracey
PRIORY PRCD 1180

This does what it says on the tin! Mostly very familiar hymns sung and accompanied brilliantly in the wonderful Liverpool (Anglican) setting.

MOTHER OF GOD, HERE I STAND
Choir of Nottingham Cathedral, director Alex Patterson
PRIORY PRCD 1196

Recordings by UK Catholic choirs are less numerous than their Anglican counterparts and this one is particularly welcome. It draws together a collection of music all of which gives particular focus to Mary and covers a range of periods and styles of composition. It is punctuated throughout by ancient chant and includes compositions by Byrd, Palestrina, Philips, Victoria and de Lassus alongside contemporary works from Britten, Tavener, Celia McDowall, Howard Skempton and Alex Patterson’s own Ave Maria. It is wonderful to have all this music collected here in commited performances by the Nottingham choir.

A CAVALIER CHRISTMAS
The Ebor Singers, Chelys Consort of Viols, conducted by Paul Gameson
RESONUS RES 10202 66’28

It is always good to see imaginative themed releases such as this fascinating CD, which is a follow up to a previous recording, Music for Troubled Times. As the sleeve notes point out the music reflects the style in which Charles I wished to continue to celebrate Christmas in contrast to the Puritans who sought to abolish any Christmas observance. Less familiar names such as William & Henry Lawes , George Jeffreys & John Jenkins sit alongside Byrd, Gibbons & Dering. The period instruments do much to transport us back to the time of the English Civil War.

 

LO, HOW A ROSE E’ER BLOOMING – MUSIC FOR CHRISTMAS
The Queen’s Six
RESONUS RES 10204  72’01

This is the third releasefor Resonus by this ensemble. Polished performances are given throughout in this eclectic mix of old and new, sacred and secular songs for Christmas. Traditional carols sit alongside less familiar choral items including Tye’s Laudate nomen Domini  and Richard Rodney Bennett’s Out of your sleep. I am not usually keen on mixing in such secular items as Let it Snow and Jingle Bells but in the arrangements and performances here they seem to fit in well.

RUSSIAN REVOLUTIONARIES VOL 1 – VICTOR EWALD & OSKAR BOHME
The Prince Regent’s Band
RESONUS RES 10201  77’02

Marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution this release is the first in a survey of late 19th & early 20th Century Russian brass chamber music. I have to admit that I found the music less interesting than I had hoped – but the performances and production are excellent. I can only hope that further releases will throw up music that sounds more revolutionary to my ear. I await them with interest.

 

 

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