O SACRUM CONVIVIUM
Leeds Cathedral Boys Choir.
Leeds Cathedral Choir.
Julie Crosby (organ) Joseph Cullen (director).
Available from Foxglove Audio. 10 Springwood
Road, Rawdon, Leeds, LS19 6BH, UK Telephone and fax 0113 250 7282, e-mail
I was privileged to know the organist Arnold Richardson, a splendid man and
a fine organist. I once asked him define what a choirboy was. His jolly,
red face burst into life and he said,"A choir boy is an unsatisfactory
alternative to a choirgirl." Was he being sexist? Oh, no. I asked him to
define a choirgirl. He laughed heartily and said, "A choirgirl is an
unsatisfactory alternative to a choirboy."
There is something about boy's voices which many of us find distracting.
They seem to have a shrill edge at times, a piercing quality whereas girl's
voices do not.
This collection of 19 items is a curious mixture of a programme and quality.
Somervell's magnificence tune to Praise to the Holiest in the Height is
wonderfully realised with a grandeur devoid of Edwardian pomposity. There
is space in this performance without dragging and what a good tune it is.
The plainsong is a welcome step back in time when churches had that essential
ingredient of reverence now so sadly lacking with the surge of the Pentecostal
and charismatic cults. The Mozart Jubilate Deo is a very strange
performance . It does not sound like Mozart
but Victorian England. The Victoria pieces fared better but I would like
a little more space and atmosphere. But it is beautiful music with superb
harmonic progressions. One of the boys' entries is suspect. There is a lovely,
deep, liturgical sound in Hilton's O sacrum convivium and the
choir's director contributes one of his pieces. The two Elgar pieces, Ave
Maria Stella and 0 Salutaris Hostia are very poor pieces
. We have the Corpus Christi Carol by
Britten which I suppose is obligatory when making a recording including a
The organ is a superb instrument and the inadequate CD notes should have
told us about it.
The performances vary but the recorded sound is good and, believe me, churches
and their organs are the most difficult to record.