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Matins for Ascension Day Olivier MESSIAEN (1908–1992)
Christ (L’Ascenscion) [6.59] (1) Charles Villiers
Coelos Ascendit [1.54] John READING (d.
Preces and Responses Jonathan BATTISHILL (1738–1801)
Venite [2.46] Joseph BARNBY (1838–1896) Psalm
24[2.44] Thomas DUPUIS (1733–1796) Psalm
47[2.14] John IRELAND (1879–1962) Te
Deum and Benedictus in F[11.53] Gerald FINZI (1901-1956)
is gone up [5.12] (2) Jeremiah CLARKE (1669–1707)
head that once was crowned with thorns [2.22] Olivier MESSIAEN (1908–1992)
de Joie [4.05] (1)
Disc also includes spoken passages and prayers from Matins
of Lincoln Cathedral/Colin Walsh
Colin Walsh (organ) (1); Andrew Post (organ); James Vivian
rec. 25 May, 16-17 June 1993. PRIORY PRCD5028 [60.46]
the music for a Matins or an Evensong service can be a little
tricky as there is not enough to fill a complete disc and
the various parts can seem a little disparate. The Choir
of St. Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh, solved the problem on
the Ascension Day Evensong CD, by concentrating on contemporary
pieces associated with the Cathedral and finishing with a
complete performance of Messiaen’s L’Ascenscion.
this 1993 recording Lincoln Cathedral took a different route
and opted to record a complete Matins service, including
the spoken bits. This is a striking solution to the problem,
but one which leaves the CD mid-way between various categories.
Someone wanting a recording of, say Ireland’s Te Deum
and Benedictus in F, might not want to acquire a disc
which includes a substantial amount of spoken word.
the recording, Priory have not quite solved the balance problems
which this type of service generates. The overall recorded
sound is pretty naturalistic with the listener placed so
that the choir is beautifully clear but the unnamed minister
is rather distant and you have to concentrate somewhat to
hear the words of the lessons.
disc opens and closes with Colin Walsh playing Messiaen,
but the remainder of the disc is devoted to English music
from a variety of periods.
choir’s first item is Stanford’s lively double choir Coelos
Ascendit from the three motets which Stanford wrote for
Trinity College. The motet is perhaps, not as subtle or sophisticated
as Beati Quorum from the same group, though I found
Walsh and the choir gave a remarkably light and airy performance.
Perhaps this is because I am used to hearing it sung by bigger
choirs. Lincoln Cathedral Choir is comparatively small: there
are 14 boy trebles, 3 altos, 3 tenors and 4 basses. This
is not exactly a large group for singing double choir music
and this makes the choir’s achievement all the better.
choir sing three psalms, to Anglican chants by Battishill,
Barnby and Dupuis. The responses are by John Reading thus
the choir cover a remarkable chunk of 17th, 18th and
19th century English liturgical music. The choir’s
chant singing is not the most sophisticated on record, but
they are alive to the words and convey the psalms pretty
well. If I heard these performances during a Matins or Evensong
service I would be quite impressed. Reading was an organist
at Lincoln and thus his Responses are the only pieces on
the disc which would seem to have a direct link to the Cathedral.
Deum and Benedictus in F were written when he was still
organist at St. Luke’s Church, Chelsea. They are attractive,
well made pieces which succeed without ever falling into
the category of his major works.
is Gone up would seem to me to be in entirely a different
category and here it is given a very fine performance.
Though, if you are looking for this piece especially then
it would seem far more sensible to buy the admirable Naxos
disc of Finzi choral music from St. John’s College Cambridge.
there has to be a hymn, and Lincoln include Jeremiah Clarke’s
lovely and short The head that once was crowned with thorns.
is an admirable disc and one which will appeal to lovers
of Matins and supporters of Lincoln Cathedral Choir. The
choir has a lively sound and good attack and their performances
are fine, though occasionally there is unevenness in the
ensemble. Though these are not billed as live recordings,
they have a live, off-the-cuff feel which is entirely in
keeping with the recording of a service. You really do feel
as if you are eavesdropping on a service at the Cathedral.
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