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William TURNER (1651-1740)
Sacred Choral Works
Te Deum (1696) [18:09]
Lord, thou hast been my refuge [5:56]
My soul truly waiteth [3:49]
Hear my prayer, O Lord [7:06]
The Queen shall rejoice (1702) [2:50]
Jubilate Deo (Service in E) [3:19]
Magnificat (Service in A) [4:23]
Nunc Dimittis (Service in A) [2:27]
O Lord, God of hosts, hear my prayer [4:10]
The Lord is righteous [5:30]
Jubilate Deo (1696) [8:28]
Julia Doyle (soprano)
William Purefoy (counter tenor)
William Towers (counter tenor)
Paul Thompson (tenor)
Daniel Jordan (bass)
The Choir of Gonville and Caius College Cambridge
Yorkshire Baroque Soloists (Peter Seymour, director)/Geoffrey Webber
rec. Pembroke College Chapel, July 2006
DELPHIAN DCD 34028 [66:14]

 


William Turnerís music Ė and indeed his very name Ė is so little known that its restoration in this admirable disc is all the more welcome. And a restoration is most apposite because Turnerís childhood encompassed both the Republic and the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. Pelham Humfrey and John Blow were near contemporaries and fellow members of the Westminster Abbey Club Anthem, whilst Purcell was his junior by some years. At sixteen he was Master of the Choristers at Lincoln but in 1672 he returned to London to serve in the Chapel Royal and later Westminster Abbey. Thus his career witnessed the rebirth of English church music and he lived long enough to see Handelís establishment as the premier composer in London Ė Turner in fact died the year before Messiah was premiered.

Turnerís effacement from the Blow-Humphrey axis is certainly unjust if this disc is representative, and thereís no reason to think it isnít. Harmonically and textually his accomplishments are clear and one wonders whether the reasons for his neglect are more biographical than musical. The 1696 Te Deum has an extensive role for countertenor; the writing is fluent and fluid and the word setting is intelligent and sensitively varied, spiced all the while with sufficient harmonic twists to keep predictability flouted. The trumpet is used sparingly Ė but to optimum advantage, a telling example of his practical assurance.

Lord, thou hast been my refuge is beautifully crafted and full of refined sensitivity and in the case of The Queen shall rejoice we have a rare example of a full anthem, affirmatory and even bordering on the jaunty in places. Certainly by the time of some of these later settings Purcellís influence seems strong though I wouldnít necessarily call it pervasive in any way. Turnerís strong individualism is still apparent, not least in the concise and beautifully laid out My soul truly waiteth, one of the most lovely things here. The 1696 Jubilate Deo has claims to be the most explicitly Purcellian of the compositions but one should remember that Purcellís Jubilate Deo was commissioned 1694, Blowís in 1695 and Turnerís the following year. He still held eminence and in some ways is paying homage to the recently deceased Purcell.

The discís attraction is enhanced by the first class performance of the soloists, well known in the field, and the choir. The Yorkshire Baroque Soloists are equally eminent and Geoffrey Webber proves to have a very winning way with these forces. Add a splendid recording as well and you have a near-faultless disc of some fine, unjustly neglected music.

Jonathan Woolf 

see also Review by Johan van Veen

 

 


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