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Benjamin BRITTEN Missa Brevis in D: Kyrie [1:50]; Gloria [3:01]; Sanctus [1:30]; Benedictus [2:00]; Agnus Dei [2:41]
Nadia BOULANGER Lux aeterna [2:29]
Felix MENDELSSOHN If with all your hearts [3:08]
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS The Call [2:23]
David J. EVANS arr. Malcolm ARCHER Be still, for the presence of the Lord [3:23]
Malcolm ARCHER Brightest and Best [2:58]; Lead kindly light [4:02]; When I survey the wondrous cross [2:59]
John IRELAND Ex ore innocentium [3:43]
Damian LUMDY arr. Malcolm ARCHER Song for a young prophet [3:34]
Philip MOORE We give thee thanks, O Lord [2:21]
Gabriel FAURÉ Pie Jesu [3:33]
Stanley VANN I call on thee [3:28]
Mary PLUMSTEAD A grateful heart [2:04]
Noel RAWSTHORNE I will lift up mine eyes [3:04]
Leonard BLAKE And now another day is gone [1:39]
George DYSON Nunc Dimittis in D [2:42]
David Bednall (Organ), Ned Berry, Daniel Macklin, Harry New, Kieran White (soloists)
The Boy Choristers of Wells Cathedral/Malcolm Archer
rec. Ampleforth Abbey, Wells Cathedral, 2 April, 28 May 2004. DDD

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Lammas has produced here a deeply impressive disc of works for treble voices. Recorded in the aptly reverberant acoustic of Ampleforth Abbey, a range of works from Mendelssohn to Britten showcase the boys’ outstanding singing, with good intonation, excellent enunciation and persuasive communication of the spirit of the pieces.

The disc commences with Britten’s moving Missa Brevis in D. This is beautifully sung, and admirably accompanied by Bednall. The soloists Ned Berry, Daniel Macklin and Harry New are tremendously expressive in the Gloria, the Sanctus is performed with great confidence and proficiency, and the Agnus Dei in particular is brilliantly atmospheric. Their enunciation is exquisite!

Kieran White is the main soloist, taking on all the solos apart from those mentioned in the Britten. He has a gorgeously rich – and surprisingly mature, deep and dark - tone for a treble, and is extremely competent. I love the rolled “r"s (particularly noticeable in the “presence” of Be still, for the presence of the lord).

The disc presents a nice selection of works, and a pleasing range from the very well known to the unknown, including some rather good pieces by the director, Malcolm Archer in an accessible, popular, Rutter-esque vein, John Ireland’s haunting Ex ore innocentium, Leonard Blake’s uplifting hymn And now another day is gone and concludes with Dyson’s stunningly beautiful Nunc Dimittis in D. Some works are a little candy-floss-y – The Song for a young Prophet, for example – something that may put some people off, but this doesn’t necessarily detract from the disc as a whole. I felt that the fairly leisurely rendition of Fauré’s famous Pie Jesu was very carefully performed for maximum musical effect and sound rather than  endowed with honest sentiment. The singing seem to smack of a very hard attempt at sounding poignant and moving, and one wondered whether the boys were actually taking note of the words they were singing.

There is some exceptional ensemble singing from the boys on this disc, combining good clarity and precision. The organ accompaniment is sympathetic throughout, and the direction of Malcolm Archer has produced excellent results. Although I would personally find it too heavy-going and sickly to listen to the whole disc at one sitting, I would definitely recommend this to anyone who appreciates church music or is a fan of treble voices.

Em Marshall



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