The Choir of St. Edmundsbury Cathedral is
an all-volunteer organization that contributes a great deal
of personal time and effort to bringing music to their congregation.
While this disc does not come in at the level of the full-time
British Cathedral Choirs, they have put together a pleasant
collection of favorite anthems that serves the dual purpose
of documenting the hard work and dedication of the choristers,
and provides a fine souvenir for both parishioners and visitors
Having said that,
and since this disc has been released on the international market
and submitted for review, it is only fair to point out that
there are a few shortcomings in spite of the good intentions
of the participants. There are instances where the choir attempts
to perform repertoire that is a bit beyond their collective
skill. This is most evident in the longer more harmonically
sophisticated works such as Bairstow’s challenging Blessed
City, Heavenly Salem, and Naylor’s Vox
dicentes where intonation and blend become problematic from
time to time.
Where the choir
shines is in the simpler more homophonic textured works such
as Tallis’s If Ye Love Me and the two Stanford motets,
which are performed quite convincingly. To his credit, James
Thomas has trained this group of amateur singers well, and on
the whole, they sing in tune, with tight rhythmic ensemble,
and with a deep sense of musicality and commitment to the texts.
Enunciation in most cases is quite clear and the choir has a
fine sense of the ebb and flow of the musical line.
The disclaimer about
the current condition of the cathedral organ notwithstanding,
there is a great deal of blower noise and it is especially noticeable
at the end of pieces. It makes quite a racket at the end of
the serene Lord, Let Me Know Mine End.
The inexcusable errors are on the part of
the record label for allowing such a very low bass response
in the master recording to pass through. There is very little
bedrock to the sound and the trebles dominate without the solid
foundation of the basses. Another major flaw is the lack of
program notes and (A-HEM!) dates of composers.
This disc might
not be ready for prime time, but it is by no means unworthy
either. Friends and fans of the choir will certainly want to
own one, and it will be of interest to those who follow the
work of English Cathedral choirs.