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Lammas Records

In Tune with Heaven
Hubert PARRY (1848-1918)
Blest Pair of Sirens [10.39]
My Soul, there is a country [3.56]
I know my soul hath Power [2.10]
Never Weather Beaten Sail [3.10]
There is an old belief [3.49]
William HARRIS (1883-1973)

Faire is the Heaven [5.22]
Come, my Way [3.15]
Come down, O Love Divine [3.49]
Bring us, O Lord God [3.30]
Strengthen Ye the Weak Hands [7.36]
Charles STANFORD (1852-1924)

O for a Closer Walk with God [3.26]
Justorum Animae [3.09]
Coelos Ascendit Hodie [1.58]
Beati Quorum Via [3.23]
Magnificat in G [4.15]
Nunc Dimittis in G [4.04]
A Song of Peace [4.43]
The girls and men of Norwich Cathedral Choir/Julian Thomas
Thomas Leech (organ)


Call me old-fashioned, but I like my sacred choral music that was essentially written for boys' voices, sung by boys! This collection of English choral music offers an excellent selection of wonderful works, but is sung unconvincingly by the girls and men of Norwich Cathedral. The disc opens promisingly, with the rousing organ introduction to Blest Pair of Sirens, which is then followed by two treasures by Harris Ė Faire is the Heaven and Come, my Way. It includes four of Parryís six Songs of Farewell, and Stanfordís exultant and delightful Coelos Ascendit Hodie and beautiful Song of Peace. Yet, for me, the disc is ruined by the presence of girls instead of boys. Stanfordís glorious Magnificat in G seems particularly marred by the girls' voices ... the solo is fairly dire - the girl's voice squeaky and strained, rough and harsh, lacking in lyricism and beauty. This solo cries out for a boy treble. The solo in the Nunc Dimittis is also not up to scratch. A bass this time, his voice also sounds strained (almost wobbly at times!) and lacks confidence and strength. Bad articulation rather ruins My Soul, there is a country - the lack of an "l" on the end of the rather important word "soul" is extremely noticeable!

This is a brilliantly programmed compilation, ranging from the well-known Songs of Farewell to some charming less well-known pieces. The downside is the performance, with ropy singing from the men, and the girls' voices coming across as naive and unprofessional, lacking the purity, clarity and sheer radiance of boys' voices. Although they manage to produce a fairly big sound, refinement and finesse is desperately needed. I found that my pleasure in these works was severely reduced - for me, the girls just sound wrong, and given that the singing anyway is not particularly competent, I would certainly advise trying other recordings of these works. Naxos has produced an excellent disc of Stanfordís anthems and services with the Choir of St Johnís, Cambridge, and Stanfordís Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis are available on the Decca British Music Collection (along with his superb Songs of the Sea). Otherwise, EMI has produced a good disc of Stanfordís sacred choral works (including most of those here) with Stephen Cleobury directing Kingís College, Cambridge, and Hyperion has a three-disc set of his scared choral music with David Hill and the Winchester Cathedral Choir. The Blest pair of Sirens and My Soul, there is a country can be found on another Decca British Music Collection disc Ė again, highly recommended - while the Songs of Farewell are available on a number of discs, most notably on Hyperion with Christopher Robinson.

Em Marshall

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