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Hear My Prayer - Hymns and Anthems
Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924)
3 Motets, Op. 38: No. 1. Justorum animae (c. 1905) [03.08] Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983)
Magnificat (1945) [05.36]
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
O God, thou art my God, Z. 35 (c. 1680) [04.08]

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-47)
Hear My Prayer, "O, for the wings of a dove" (1844) [12.34]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Cantique de Jean Racine, Op. 11 (1865) [05.54]
Maurice DURUFLÉ (1902-1986)
Four Motets, Op. 10: No. 1: Ubi caritas et amor (1960) [02.35]

Gerald FINZI (1901-1956)
Three Anthems, Op. 27: No. 2. God is gone up (1951) [05.03]
Edgar L. BAINTON (1880-1956)

Anthem: And I saw a new Heaven (1928) [05.37]
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
Remember not, O Lord, Z. 50 (c. 1680) [03.08]

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Vesperae solennes de Confessore, K. 339, ‘Solemn Vespers’: V. Laudate Dominum (1780) [04.23]
Antonio LOTTI (c1667-1740)
Crucifixus a 8 (c. 1720) [03.41]
Eleanor DALEY (b. 1955)
Requiem: In Remembrance [02.35]
Stephen CHATMAN (b.1950)
Remember [02.49]
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Lux aeterna (choral arr. of Elgar's ‘Nimrod’ Variation) (1899) [03.51]
César FRANCK (1822-1890)

Panis angelicus (1872) [04.14]
Karina Gauvin (soprano)
Matthew Larkin (organ)
Choir of St John's, Elora/Noel Edison
rec. St. John’s Anglican Church, Elora, Ontario, Canada, 21-25 January 2004. DDD
NAXOS 8.557493 [69.17]

 



Following hard on the heels of their successful release Psalms for the Soul (8.554823), Naxos, using the same forces, have issued this new collection of Hymns and Anthems entitled Hear My Prayer.

This anthology of popular hymns, anthems and songs in praise of the Lord, combines elements from Stanford’s Anglican tradition to Maurice Duruflé’s Catholic convention. From Purcell’s seventeenth-century England to Eleanor Daley’s twentieth-century Canada, this recording includes a number of favourites. Among them we find Mendelssohn’s best known contribution to church music, Hear My Prayer (1844) which incorporates O, for the wings of a dove.

Stanford had the first of his Three Motets, Op. 38: No. 1. Justorum animae published in 1903 and it sets a latin text from The Book of Wisdom. A pupil of Stanford, Howells wrote his Magnificat in 1945 for the evening service at King’s College, Cambridge.

Purcell’s setting of the Psalm 63 O God, thou art my God has been dated from around 1681. Purcell’s second work here is the five-part setting of the litany prayer Remember not, O Lord, our offences which originates from the same period.

Faure’s Cantique de Jean Racine which has a text from a prayer by Jean Racine won the composer a prize at his college the École Niedermeyer in 1865. Duruflé composed his Four Motets in 1960. The first one Ubi caritas et amor comes from the liturgy for Maundy Thursday and makes use of Gregorian melody. God is gone up is the second of Finzi’s Three Anthems (1961) setting texts by the Puritan Edward Taylor.

Another pupil of Stanford, Edgar Bainton has his most famous piece in the setting of And I saw a new Heaven from Revelations. It remains a standard in Anglican liturgical repertoire. Mozart’s Psalm CXVI Laudate Dominum omnes gentes forms part of his Vesperae solennes de Confessore and was written in Salzburg in 1780.

The eight voice a-capella Crucifixus with words at the heart of the Credo is characteristic of Italian composer Lotti who was employed as Maestro di Capella at Venice's Saint Mark’s Cathedral. Canadian-born composer and conductor Eleanor Daley turns to Elisabeth Fry’s poem In Remembrance which forms part of her Requiem. Another successful Canadian composer Stephen Chatman sets Remember, a poem by Christina Rossetti.

The final two works on the release are known throughout the world in various forms. Lux aeterna is a choral arrangement of Elgar’s Nimrod from 1899. It was composed as a solemn memorial tribute to his friend August Jaeger. Forming part of his Mass, Belgian-born composer César Franck wrote his Panis angelicus in 1872. It is a setting of a text from St. Thomas Aquinas.

The first class performances demonstrate tremendous technical accomplishment. The Elora choristers convey an outstanding security of ensemble, intonation, and enunciation; which is so crucial to psalm settings. I was especially impressed with the beauty and character of the interpretations from this well balanced body of choristers. They provide a highly appropriate concentrated liturgical personality and are clearly at home with these scores. With the exception of some early unsteadiness in Mendelssohn’s Hear My Prayer, the radiant Canadian soprano Karina Gauvin sings with beauty and great sensitivity. Last, but certainly not least, the organ sounds in spectacular form thanks to the expert contribution of Matthew Larkin.

The recorded sound is of high quality and the booklet notes are interesting and informative.

I wonder if I will hear a finer release of sacred choral music this year.

Michael Cookson

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