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Hail Mary
John TAVENER (b. 1944)
Hymn to the Mother of God (1985) [2'31]. Magnificat (1986) – Collegium Regale [7'12].
Hieronymous PRAETORIUS (1560-1629)
Magnificat: Tone V à 8 [8'04].
TRADITIONAL, arr. Edgar PETTMANN (1866-1943)
The Angel Gabriel [2'38].
Andrew CARTER (b. 1939)
Mary's Magnificat (1986) [3'22].
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Ave Maria (1860) [3'05].
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Ave Maris Stella, CW156/2 (1899) [3'39].
Giovanni Batista PERGOLESI (1710-1736)
Stabat Mater (1736) - Stabat Mater dolorosa [3'14].
Jean LANGLAIS (1907-1991)
Triptique grégorienne (1978) – Rosa mystica [4'30].
Wayne MARSHALL (b. 1961)
Magnificat in C [3'35].
Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Ave Maria [3'17].
Maurice DURUFLÉ (1902-1986)
Tota pulchra es, Maria, Op. 10 No. 2 (1960) [2'22].
ANONYMOUS
There is no rose of such virtue [4'04].
Flor PEETERS (1903-1986)
Toccata, Fugue et Hymne sur Ave Maris Stella, Op. 28 (1931) [8'19].
Plainchant: Virgo prudentissima [1'00 + 1'01]; Hodie Maria Virgo [0'33 + 0'33].
Lincoln Cathedral Choir/Aric Prentice, Charles Harrison (organ).
Rec. Lincoln Cathedral on January 31st, February 1st & 3rd, 2005. DDD
GUILD GMCD7291 [64'22]

 

 

The 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.

Lincoln 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.

Lincoln 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.

The 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.

The 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.

It 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.

The 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.

Colin Clarke

 

 



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