With its tranquil cover
depicting a lake and hills at sunset,"
Peace on Earth" is an apt title
for this excellent collection of music
from the marvelous English composer:
Orlando Gibbons. From the beginning
of the disc I knew that this was going
to be a winner. Max Spreckley, treble
gives a splendid rendition of "The
Silver Swan"; sung many times at
Madrigals at my old school (MCS) in
Oxford. You may possibly also recognize
Song 1 as a hymn tune.
The stand-out piece
is "This is the Record of John"
and this is sung with great feeling
and sensitivity. Indeed the soloist
Matthew Reeve’s voice almost cracks
with emotion on the line "voice
cries out in the wilderness". I’ve
not heard it bettered and have played
this several times already and will
return to it often. Incidentally, this
magnificent anthem was written for Dr.
Laud who became Archbishop of Canterbury
and was executed in 1645. The autograph
is in the library of Christ Church,
Oxford where the choir often sings Gibbons.
This piece is sung a week before Christmas.
The disc works well
on several levels and I hope that it
introduces people, including visitors
to Truro, to the wonders of Gibbons’
art. The Choir is in good voice throughout
and the acoustic is well captured by
the engineers. The instrumentals are
nicely played on a chamber organ although
there may be people out there who would
prefer to hear virginals or harpsichord.
In the piece "See see the word",
a recording I have by "The Clerkes
of Oxenford" (Calliope), a more
"authentic" sound is achieved
with viols and viola de gamba (unaccredited).
The atmosphere there is quite different
from Truro where the counter-tenor and
choir are accompanied by the chamber
I love the sound of
treble and counter-tenor in these works.
They sound very good on a home system.
The difference is that between a chapel
choir and cathedral; unless you’re averse
to the latter you’ll enjoy this disc.
Mention must be made
of very informative notes by David Cheetham.
For example he draws attention to the
anthem "O thou central orb"
and that the "blissful amen"
was sung after the blessing at Edward
VII’s coronation. As with some other
works the choir sings words which were
written well after Gibbons’ time. I
doubt, however if the choir in 1902
would have rendered the music any finer.
I love Gibbons’ music
and I am certain that any admirer of
fine choral music will enjoy this CD.
It works on three levels: a good listen
to "chill out" and relax to;
a fine statement by a splendid choir
whom it would be lovely to hear in their
own Cathedral; most of all it is a wonderful
affirmation of the genius of Orlando
David R Dunsmore