As with all these
Arkiv CDs you are getting a record company-authorised CDR at a
favourable price, a reproduction of the original cover and back
of booklet. The original liner-notes are not included.
Orlando Gibbons was
one of the last generation of English madrigalists and writers
of anthems and choral polyphony, although most of his music was
unpublished at his death. Here is a CD of 18 anthems. Gibbons
wrote a total of forty such anthems – some strictly polyphonic;
others simpler ‘verse anthems’.
These are settings
of various texts associated with the Anglican rite to which Gibbons
subscribed and in which milieu he made his name: he presided over
the funeral of James I, for example, in 1625. It seems likely
that the narrative for Palm Sunday from Mathew Chapter 21, Hosanna
to the son of David, itself, was composed for a royal occasion
- King James I saw his position as head of the English and Scottish
church as analogous to Christ’s. This is the record of John
tells the story of John the Baptist and Almighty and Everlasting
God is a short polyphonic anthem with the text from Advent.
There is a pleasing
mixture of moods on this CD. From the quiet and introspective,
to more outgoing works like Praise the Lord, o my soul and
O clap your hands. Of great beauty with its sinuous plangent
melody is Behold, thou hast made. Such contrasts go some
way towards revealing the breadth of Gibbons’ accomplishment.
Those unfamiliar with
this repertoire may have misgivings that it’s bland and unvaried
music. That its devotional burden overpowers inventiveness and/or
that the forces for which it was written must – in the twenty-first
century - articulate an odd blend of formal, remote words with
‘thin’ music. Never. The Trinity College Choir – sensuously yet
unceremoniously recorded – will convince you of the opposite.
Works like Oh Lord, in thy wrath and Blessed are all
they that fear are focused, economical, rich, lucid and entirely
accessible to the modern ear. Far from ‘churchy’, they are intricate
and subtle works of music in their own right. Once you get used
to the idiom, you’ll be able to appreciate the beauty of the lines
and the poetry of the harmonies and resultant colour.
The singing of the
Trinity College choir is delicate, resonant and meticulously focused
on bringing these qualities out. Fretwork’s role is a relatively
minor one. But when they do join with the choir, their playing
is fresh and supportive; it enhances this wonderful, touching
and poignant music.