UK's cathedral choirs are surely musical jewels in the crown.
It is a tradition that lives strongly to this day, as can be
clearly heard from, in this instance, Lincoln. Not the greatest
of our jewels, there is nevertheless a professionalism and dedication
here. The programme is nicely wide-ranging (the Wayne Marshall
was a surprise), with interspersed chants adding significantly
to the atmosphere.
Cathedral has been dedicated to the Virgin Mary since the beginning
of the eleventh century. The present flowering of interest in
the Mother of God (and the Mother of the Church) perhaps reflects
a broader trend towards the search for a Divine Goddess, and
one that would perhaps not contradict the more traditional Christian
readings. Good to see this flowering in musical form, therefore
- this is not to be confused with concurrent interest in Mary
Magdalene, another aspect of this resurgence of the feminine.
Choir has a mix of boy and girl choristers. Some may find this
impure, but actually there is a subtle alternation of sound.
The choir as a whole does not have massive depth of sound even
though the acoustic – and Guild's recording thereof – is one
that adds body.
Praetorius Magnificat shows just how rhythmically on-the-ball
Lincoln's choristers are. 'The Angel Gabriel', probably the
most famous track, lilts in a way that makes the cosy 'Mary's
Magnificat' that follows the logical next step.
Grieg piece was new to me, and I am glad to make its acquaintance.
Its affecting simplicity comes from a composer not associated
in my mind with liturgical music although there are several
rival versions of this piece available.
is the Langlais that brings with it hints at least of mysticism,
its varied and interesting harmonies leading to a rewarding
listening experience. This is more than Wayne Marshall's naïve
Magnificat offers, with its saccharine-sweet, yukky end. It
is left to Bruckner, no less, to redirect the listener towards
the sublime ('Ave Maria'). Here the care that evidently went
into choral balance clearly paid off.
trebles/girls do very well with the ultra-high challenge of
Tavener's 'Collegium Regale', while the whole disc is 'led out'
by Charles Harrison's simply superb account of Flor Peeters'
bright and imposing 'Toccata, Fugue et Hymne sur Ave Maris Stella'.
There is great depth to the recording.