Psalms for the Spirit George Mursell GARRETT (1834-1897)
Psalm 126 [2:03]
Psalm 93 [2:14] John GOSS (1808-1880)
Psalm 127 [2:15] Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983)
O Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem (after Psalm 122) [7:37]
Psalm 121 [2:33] Henry SMART (1813-1879)
Psalm 65 [4:14] William MATHIAS (1934-1992)
Let the people praise thee, O God. (after Psalm 67) [5:30] Thomas ATTWOOD (1765-1838)
Psalm 41 [3:57] William CROFT (1678-1727)
Burial Sentences [2:59] Noel EDISON (b. 1959)
Psalm 137 [3:14] Edward BAIRSTOW (1874-1946)
Psalm 114 [2:16] Bob CHILCOTT (b. 1955)
My Prayer (after Psalm 102) [7:19] Matthew LARKIN (b. 1963)
Psalm 111 [3:14] Samuel WESLEY (1766-1837)
Psalm 42 [4:34] Hubert PARRY (1848-1918)
I Was Glad (after Psalm 122) [6:25]
Choir of St.
John’s, Elora/Noel Edison
Matthew Larkin (organ)
rec. St. John’s Church, Elora, Ontario, Canada, 27-30 January
2005. NAXOS 8.557781 [60:31]
The singing of
Psalms is perhaps the bedrock of the Anglican choral tradition.
After the Protestant Reformation, the settings of Psalm texts
evolved from simple plainchant, to a harmonized chant that
follows a specific formula. As a general rule, Anglican chant
is made of two sequences of ten chords, and the verses are “pointed” so
that the cadences of the music fall within the natural speech
rhythms of the text. Although it looks incredibly simple on
the printed page, Psalm singing can be devilishly difficult
to do well. Here is a choir that succeeds in making what can
often be turgid service music come alive and be vital and inspiring.
For variety and
interest, Noel Edison and his choir have interspersed chant
settings with through-composed choral works, all on Psalm texts
or adaptations thereof. In all, this is extremely satisfying,
although I would fault Mr. Edison for throwing in a few selections
long tired from over-use.
In spite of that
quibble, there is much here to be enjoyed. The choir sings
with a sure and even tone, immaculately in tune and with a
fine sense of rhythmic motion and drive. Edison’s tempi are
well chosen, and he never lets the music bog down, particularly
in the chant settings.
Items that shine:
John Goss’s chant setting of Psalm 127, Herbert Howells’ gorgeous
anthem O Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, and William
Croft’s Funeral Sentences stand out as true gems.
Items that could
be left at home: William Mathias’s dreadful anthem for Charles
and Diana’s wedding Let the People Praise Thee O God. This
is such contrived music that if I never hear it again it will
be too soon. And, although Parry’s famed coronation anthem I
Was Glad never grows old, it’s a bit of a cheap shot to
include something so Hollywood.
aside, this is very fine singing, and Matthew Larkin’s skill
at the console is beyond reproach. This disc is one in a series
of Psalm collections on Naxos, and it is a worthy addition
to any collection. Anglican choristers will find the music
very familiar, and will appreciate hearing a fine choir sing
such familiar music.
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