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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


 

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Orlando GIBBONS (1583-1625)
Peace on Earth-Sacred and Secular Music

The silver swan, [1:08]
Song 1, [1:21]
Almighty and Everlasting, [2:32]
Great Lord of Lords, [4:33]
Song 46, [1:33]
If ye be risen again with Christ, [4:33]
Prelude, [2:19]
Hosanna to the Son of David, [ 2:52]
Nay let me weep, [8:39]
This is the Record of John, [4:38]
O Thou, the central orb, [4:13]
Ground, [3:22]
O God the King of Glory, [4:02]
Oh Lord in thy wrath, [3:33]
What is our life, [4:15]
Pavan, [3:31]
Song 44, [1:22]
See see, the word is incarnate, [6:07]
Matthew Reeve (counter-tenor) (Record of John)
Truro Cathedral Choir/Robert Sharpe;
Christopher Gray (organ)
rec. Truro Cathedral, 20-23 June 2005. DDD
LAMMAS RECORDS LAMM 190D [67:03]


 

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 organ.

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 Gibbons.

 

David R Dunsmore

 

 

 



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