This collection of
sacred part songs and hymns provides
an interesting programme: Ireland's
Te Deum, Tippett's Ikos funeral
music, Fauré's Agnus Dei (Requiem)
and the refreshingly modern Benedictus
from Jenkins’ The Armed Man are
all welcome items. The hymns are of
the 'Songs of Praise' variety, but these
are punctuated by a couple of organ
pieces to make a colourful change. The
hymns here are well known and this is
just as well since diction is poor from
the rececessed congregation in a wide
acoustic. The repetitive nature of hymns
is always helped by the inclusion of
a descant verse from the well-trained
choir and this is particularly uplifting
for two of the hymns, Light's abode
and Eternal Father. The hymn,
Light’s abode (Henry Smart) is
rather pedestrian in speed for its jolly
In the part songs,
the reverberation that masks clarity
in the hymns tends to promote a very
pleasing effect where the boy sopranos
soar effortlessly above the tenor and
bass lines, and this made the experience
rather special. Of the choral pieces,
I found Gray's What are these that
glow bright and full of energy and
Parry's Chorale Prelude a nice
diversion. Anyone who hasn't heard the
Benedictus yet from The Armed Man
will undoubtedly be moved by it.
The warmth of the recording
with its wide frequency range complements
the impressive organ's rich bass registers.
It is unfair to differentiate between
the playing of its three soloists as
all contribute excellently to the programme.
The addition of the Regent Brass Band
for some of the hymns adds welcome colour
and lifts the overall sound-picture.
Perhaps I could have
done without the uninspired (to my ears)
Joubert piece when it must have been
a difficult choice to decide what to
leave out of such a programme.
The booklet, in English
only, gives useful background snippets
and a full specification of the organ
which I notice sports a number of 16'
ranks and one 32' sub bass pedal.
Raymond J, Walker