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Love and Honour
Charles Hubert PARRY (1848-1918)

I was Glad (1902, rev. 1911)
A Garland for the Queen (1953)

Arthur BLISS (1891-1975)

Arnold BAX (1883-1953)

What is it like to be young and fair
Michael TIPPETT (1905-1998)

Dance, Clarion Air
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)

Silence and Music
Lennox BERKELEY (1903-1989)

Spring at this hour
John IRELAND (1879-1962)

The Hills
Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983)

Gerald FINZI (1901-1956)

White-flowering days
Alan RAWSTHORNE (1905-1971)

Edmund RUBBRA (1901-1986)

Tarik O’REGAN (b.1978)

Tu Claustra Stirpe Regia (2003)
Cantate Domino (2002)
Patrick GOWERS (b.1936)

Viri Galilai (1988)
William WALTON (1902-1983)

The Twelve (1956)
The Choir of Queens' College Cambridge
James Southall (Organ)
Samuel Hayes (Director)
Recorded in the Chapel of Queens College, Cambridge 22-25 June 2003
GUILD GMCD 7287 [71.13]


The Choir of Queens College, Cambridge is fresh voiced and lissom. Their clean-limbed approach is complemented by Guilds recording which is not at all echo laden or dampened but catches a degree of acoustic immediacy. Thats important when one considers that the burden of the disc is A Garland for the Queen in which the poems of then living poets were set by ten of the leading composers of the day. Walton and Britten were excluded since they had their own settings elsewhere in the Coronation. Amongst the poets were Christopher Fry, Walter de la Mare, Louis MacNeice and Edmund Blunden – but also Ursula Wood, James Kirkup and Clifford Bax.

They start with an earlier example of more forthright ceremonial, Parry’s I Was Glad, with organ accompaniment. Here it’s gentle and quite reserved – the opposite of, say, the old Philip Ledger recording. The Garland was once available on Gamut sung by the Cambridge University Chamber Choir under Timothy Brown so there’s certainly a discographic tradition here. I enjoyed the verdant Bax – very little vibrato, a clear-as-spring water sound – and the shapely diminuendi and crescendi in the Tippett (easy to exaggerate these). In the VW they catch the melismas of silence well and those Tallis-like string choirs are nicely evoked. The tonal blend is perhaps at its most impressive in the Ireland, even though there are one of two moments of relative weakness in the lower men’s voices; the Finzi is not subject to too much in the way of metrical shifts and its simplicity emerges intact.

Tarik O’Regan contributes two pieces of recent provenance. The organ-accompanied Tu Claustra Stirpe Regia has a timeless feel and summons up a continuum of musical feeling whilst Cantate Domino sports some intriguing registers and organ colours – essentially slow moving but also ebullient and sensitive alternately. We end with Walton’s The Twelve which he wrote in 1956; punchy and jazzy in places and very well understood here.

The texts are here with introductory notes. Youthful performances, then, offering a different perspective on this repertoire.

Jonathan Woolf

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