One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,928 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Sacred Choral Music

Give Unto The Lord (Psalm XXIX) Op.74 (1914)
Ave verum corpus Op.2 No.1 (1902)
Ave Maria Op.2 No.2 (1902)
Ave maris stella Op.2 No.3 (1902)
O hearken Thou (Psalm V) Op.64 (1911)
Te deum Laudamus Op.34 No.1 (1897)
Benedictus Op.34 No.2 (1897)
O salutaris hostia (1880, rev. 1888)
Great is the Lord (Psalm XLVIII) Op.67 (1912)
The Spirit of the Lord (from ĎThe Apostlesí) (1903)
Go song of mine Op.57 (1909)
Seek Him that maketh (from ĎThe Light of Lifeí) Op.29 (1886 rev.1899)
Light of the World (from ĎThe Light of Lifeí) Op.29 (1886 rev.1899)
Jonathan Vaughn (organ)
Choir of St Johnís College, Cambridge
Christopher Robinson
Recorded at St Johnís College Chapel, Cambridge, July 2003
NAXOS 8.557288 [74.20]

One look at the head-note will show that thereís an unusually broad compositional breadth to this conspicuously successful disc. It reaches back to Elgarís Op.2, the three anthems he wrote after having succeeded his father as organist at St Georgeís Worcester, and as far forward as the 1914 Psalm setting Give Unto the Lord. That later setting brims with power and confidence but has a characteristically meditative central panel as well that reflects, with perfect simplicity, Elgarís sense of contrast, colour and drama. The early anthems demonstrate his melodic gift heightened by a kind of innocent delicacy and in two of the settings real beauty of utterance. The Ave Maria is particularly fine and in this performance the tonal blend of the choir succeeds in heightening its beauty of expression. If anything Ave maris stella is just as fine, maybe even finer, with the solo voice imbued with a touching refinement.

Whether in Latin or in English, whether for contemplative or for grand state occasions, Elgarís technical control, and his command of emotive potential, remains paramount. Thus O hearken Thou, a setting written for George Vís coronation in 1911 is very much, as the Abbey organist of the time Sir Frederick Bridge put it, full of "reverent supplication." But itís Great is the Lord that more certainly catches the ear. Written the following year this ten-minute setting of Psalm XLVIII is an anthem scored for six-part choir and bass solo (well taken here). It has an effective (and indeed quixotically) quicksilver quality, with harmonic richness, jaunty freedom and maestoso swagger all held in apposite balance. The 1897 Te deum laudamus shows Elgarís accustomed confidence in his handling of material Ė itís also the piece that comes nearest Imperial jaw jutting Ė and one of the pleasures of the disc, aside from the strong musical virtues of the performances, is to be aware of musical juxtapositions such as this piece and, say, the moving compression of the 1909 Go Song of Mine. This was a Dante Gabriel Rossetti translation of a poem by Guido Cavalcanti written during the Elgarsí stay in Italy. The more familiar pieces from The Apostles and The Light of Life emerge, in this context, entirely appositely.

Christopher Robinson has impressed before on disc with Elgar and he does so here, in spades. The choral performance is exemplary, the acoustic unproblematic, and the direction at all times centred on the real musical virtues of this immaculately chosen selection.

Jonathan Woolf


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month


Chopin Bruce Liu

Ingeneri Volume 2

Mondonville - Titon et L'Aurore

Telemann - French Cantatas 1


March 2022

Brahms Symphony 4
MacMillan Larghetto for Orchestra

Bruch Violin Concertos

Debussy Preludes Book 2

Jan-Peter de GRAAFF
Cello Concertos

La Nuit étoilé
Berlioz. Holmes


Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.