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In Every Corner Sing
Lichfield Cathedral Bells (Grandsire Caters) [1’50"]
Sir Hubert PARRY (1848-1918) I was glad [5’17"]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Jesu, joy of man’s desiring [2’51"]
César FRANCK (1822-1890) Panis angelicus [3’34"]
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Let all the world in every corner sing [3’21"]
Grayston IVES (b. 1948) Listen sweet dove [2’55"]
Thomas TALLIS (1505-1585) If ye love me [2’04"]
Brian KELLY (b. 1943) Magnificat in C [3’55"]
French trad. Arr. Andrew LUMSDEN Now the green blade riseth [2’51"]
Marcel GODARD (b. 1917) Celui qui a mangé [2’27"]
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Ave Maria [2’06"]
Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924) Jubilate in C [3’20"]
Henry WALFORD DAVIES (1869-1941) Psalm 23 [2’34"]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) How lovely are thy dwellings [5’36"]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Ave verum Corpus [2’59"]
Richard FARRANT (c1530-1580) (attrib.) Lord, for thy tender mercies’ sake [2’08"]
Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Hallelujah! [4’12"]
John RUTTER (b. 1945) The Lord bless you and keep you [2’45"]
Bells (Oxford Treble Bob Royal ) [2’04"]
Lichfield Cathedral Chamber Choir/Nigel Argust
Alexander Mason (organ)
Recorded in Lichfield Cathedral, 28-29 September 2003 DDD
REGENT REGCD196 [58’50"]

 

Lichfield Cathedral Chamber Choir was founded in 1980, initially to sing the services when the cathedral choir was on holiday. Over time it has spread its wings and now also gives concerts in its own right and sings in other churches. It is a mixed adult choir. The membership, as listed in the booklet, comprises 10 sopranos, 8 (female) altos, 9 tenors and 10 basses. I’ve heard them before on BBC Radio but never on disc.

This is a choir made up of experienced and very good singers who have been well coached by Nigel Argust. Throughout the recital the balance between the voices is excellent and their diction and tuning is very good. There is much sensitive singing to enjoy but the choir can also produce a very full sound when required.

So, for example, they launch the splendid Parry anthem in fine style and sustain the intensity throughout, though they are properly observant of the piece’s more reflective sections. Similarly they convey the sturdy confidence of the Stanford and Vaughan Williams items admirably.

I enjoyed their sweet blending in the Bach, which is sensibly kept moving nicely. If the chosen tempo is too slow the piece can seem interminable; that’s not the case here. The two items of Tudor polyphony come off well. Tallis’s marvellously evocative anthem is beautifully balanced and smoothly sung. The fine Farrant anthem is no less successful. The Brahms has a lovely feeling of flow but I’m bound to say I infinitely prefer to hear it sung in German.

A couple of pieces were new to me. The short anthem by Grayston Ives is aptly described in the notes as having "uncomplicated charm". A setting of words by George Herbert, it’s a tender little piece and it’s well served by this choir. The other novelty (for me) was the short, strophic hymn by the Frenchman, Marcel Godard, now retired but previously Director of the Choirs at Lyons Cathedral. His mellifluous piece is very French in timbre and style and I liked it very much. Unfortunately, my French isn’t sufficiently good to know what it’s about and neither the text nor a translation is provided.

Quite a bit of the programme is essentially reflective in nature but the choir show their vocal athleticism in Brian Kelly’s 1965 setting of the Magnificat. Here they are very well supported by Alexander Mason, the Cathedral’s Assistant Organist who contributes excellent accompaniments, in a variety of styles, to several items in the anthology. Anyone interested in hearing him as a solo organist might care to sample his album of improvisations, Beyond the Score, which I reviewed a couple of years ago: www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2002/Sept02/Mason_Beyondscore.htm

This is an enjoyable, well sung and eclectic anthology. The performances are very good and are captured in fine recorded sound. No texts are provided and this is a pity, since such a collection may well appeal more to the general collector who may not be familiar with the pieces. There is a short but serviceable note.

I liked this disc very much and envy the people of Lichfield for having such a talented choir in their midst. I doubt that anyone purchasing this CD will be disappointed.

John Quinn



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