> Philip Wilby - Lincoln Windows [HC]: Classical CD Reviews- Jun2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Philip WILBY (born 1949)
Lincoln Windows
Caedmon’s Dream
Prayer of Mannaseh
Goldfinch Carola
Wondrous Cross
Evening Liturgy
Three Preludes on English Tunes

Choir of Lincoln College, Oxford; Sarah Wilby (flute)a; Philip Smith (organ); Tom Lydon
Recorded: Exeter College, Oxford, July 2001
GUILD GMCD 7236 [63:22]


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Philip Wilby may be better-known for his many fine works either for brass or wind bands, some of which have been recorded some years ago. He also composed a great deal of choral music of which the present release offers a comprehensive selection.

The Lincoln Windows were inspired by the stained glass windows in Lincoln Chapel, Oxford. The Lincoln windows have six panels, each sub-divised into a pair of related biblical scenes, with Old Testament below and New Testament above: thus Christ’s Nativity and the creation of Adam; Christ’s Baptism and the baptism of the forefathers by Moses; the Last Supper and the rite of the passover; the Crucifixion and the raising of Moses’ serpent staff; the Resurrection and Jonah emergent from the whale; the Ascension of Christ and the ascension of Elijah. So, the work’s structure reflects the windows’ juxtaposing of Old Testament citations and New Testament reference, often taken from three 17th Century divines, Lancelot Andrews, John Donne and Jeremy Taylor. The variety of literary sources is matched by a widely varied, though in no way eclectic, musical approach incorporating song and speech, soloists and choir, the whole framed by the choral introduction and its restatement in the closing section. The whole is an impressive piece of some substance, though I for one feel that the Ascension section fails to achieve the climax one might have expected. This is due (I think) to the fact that this section relies more on speech than on song. Nevertheless, this is a very fine piece of universal appeal.

The other items are shorter, occasional works though they all are very fine in their simplicity. I particularly enjoyed the delightful Goldfinch Carol with flute obbligato, Wondrous Cross and the beautiful Sonnet setting a fine poem by Mark Jarman. The a capella setting Evening Liturgy is also very moving, for all its brevity and simplicity.

Three Preludes on English Tunes for organ were partly composed in 1987. Recessional on "Michael" takes as its inspiration Howell’s tune whereas Down Ampney rhapsodises on Vaughan Williams’ great hymn tune.

Philip Wilby’s attractive and well-written music is superbly served by these excellent performances and by a very fine recording. The present release is up to Guild’s best standards. The production is excellent, as usual, though I would have welcomed some more information, such as dates of composition, on the works on offer.

Hubert Culot

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