Eloquence series from Decca is a treasure trove of reissues
and from what I can gather was created for the Australian market.
Although I have not yet tried to buy one, the review copies
that I have received have all been outstanding, and I hope that
they see wider distribution. This collection is a fail-safe
‘greatest hits’ collection from the Anglican Cathedral repertoire,
with the twist of being accompanied by a full orchestra instead
of the customary organ. On the whole, the forces here do a first
rate job of presentation, although regardless of how often I
am exposed to it, the men and boy choir sound, so popular in
the UK, is still an acquired taste. I cannot overcome my aversion
to the thinness of the boys’ tone. No matter how well they sing,
boys’ voices against men’s seem to my ears to be duelling contrasts
and not a unified sound.
aside, this is a pretty fine example of the genre, and there
is certainly nothing that can be called into question about
the quality of the music. Opening with the ubiquitous I was
Glad the program gets off to a rousing start. It’s nice
for these American ears to hear the vivats that
are of course omitted on these shores. Long since in Egypt’s
plenteous Land was new to me; indeed I knew the hymn tune,
but not this text or setting. Blest Pair of Sirens suffered
from a general incomprehensibility of the text. It sounded throughout
like a huge wash of oohhs and ahhhs with nary a consonant to
could have wished for more of Edward Bairstow’s music, in particular
it would have been nice to have heard And I Saw a New Heaven.
However, Blessed city was rendered with depth of
emotion and great care.
Elgar works are always joys to hear, but particularly in Give
unto the Lord I found that the effort to sing over the big
orchestra resulted in some pretty strident and overblown singing
on the part of the men. In fact, loud is what often comes across
on English cathedral choir recordings. Yes, it takes a lot of
sound to fill those buildings when you’re in them, but the microphone
is far more sensitive than the nave and adjustments need be
the time the Stanford set rolled around, I was starting to tire
of the sameness in both the sound of the choir and the orchestra.
Basically, this ensemble has one tone color, and fine as it
may be, too much of anything gets old eventually. The orchestrated
Hadley motet sounded too Hollywood and as such was not really
“believable.” The Parry Jerusalem, orchestrated by Elgar was sublime.
all, this is a nice representation some of the core repertoire
of the Anglican Church; but again, these ears would have appreciated
much more variety, and dare I say it, mature female voices,
especially given the big orchestrations.