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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


 

 

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Psalms for the Spirit
George Mursell GARRETT (1834-1897)
Psalm 126 [2:03]
John GOSS (1800-1880)
Psalm 127 [2:15]
Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983)
O, pray for the peace of Jerusalem (from Psalm 122) [7:17]
Psalm 121 [2:33]
Henry SMART (1813-1879)
Psalm 65 [4:14]
William MATHIAS (1934-1992)
Let the people praise thee, O God (from Psalm 67) [5:30]
Thomas ATTWOOD (1765-1838)
Psalm 41 [3:57]
George Mursell GARRETT (1834-1897)
Psalm 93 [2:14]
William CROFT (1678-1727)
Burial Sentences [2:59]
Noel EDISON (b.1959)
Psalm 137 [3:14]
Edward BAIRSTOW (1874-1946)
Psalm 114 [2:16]
Bob CHILCOTT (b.1955)
My Prayer (from Psalm 102) [7:19]
Matthew LARKIN (b.1963)
Psalm 111 [3:14] Samuel WESLEY (1766-1837)
Psalm 42 [4:34]
Hubert PARRY (1848-1918)
I was glad (from Psalm 12) [6:25]
Choir of St. John’s Elora; Matthew Larkin (organ); directed by Noel Edison.
rec. St. John’s Church, Elora, Ontario, 27-30 January 2005
NAXOS 8.557781 [60:31]
 
 



A tourist website tells me that “the
Village of Elora is set in one of the most picturesque areas of Ontario, and is well known for the spectacular Elora Gorge on the Grand River. Now tucked within the boundaries of the amalgamated municipality of the Township of Centre Wellington, Elora's charming village atmosphere remains unchanged. Scottish stonemasons built the village of Elora along the Grand River and the spectacular Elora Gorge in the heart of Ontario 's farmland. More than a hundred years have passed, and little has changed. The stark limestone architecture and natural beauty of the 80-foot gorges of the Grand and Irvine Rivers are the perfect setting for this jewel, with its historic charm and appealing village core”. It sounds very nice, but if I made the journey to Elora it would primarily be for the opportunity to hear the excellent choir of St. John’s Church.

 

The choir, under the guidance of its director Noel Edison, has already made a number of recordings for Naxos which have attracted a good deal of critical praise (see, for example, reviews of Faire is the heaven and Hear My Prayer). Here is another fine collection, complementing the earlier CD Psalms for the Soul (Naxos 8.554823).

 

There are no gimmicks, no fancy tricks. Just a well-trained choir, singing with honest respect for text and music alike. Intonation is impeccable, diction is generally clear. Much thought has evidently gone into questions of ensemble balance and to ensuring that melodic lines are clearly audible. The results are exemplary – and any lover of the Psalm settings of the Anglican church should certainly acquire a copy of this CD.

Particular pleasures include William Mathias’s setting of words from Psalm 67, written for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. It is a radiant piece, to which full justice is done in this performance; William Croft’s dignified, unaffected and moving setting of the Burial Sentences; Samuel Wesley’s setting of Psalm 42, in which the blend of voices is masterly.

Of the more recent compositions, Bob Chilcott’s setting of the first verse of Psalm 102 stands out – founded on Purcell and richly passionate and expressive; Edison and his choir handle its refined harmonies and counterpoint with great delicacy and fitting power.

A stirring performance of Parry’s ‘I was glad’ makes a rousing conclusion to the programme and, in truth, there isn’t a dull or unsatisfactory track on the CD.

Glyn Pursglove


see also Review by John Quinn





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