Philip MOORE (b. 1943)
Awake Up My Glory - Choral and Organ Music by Philip Moore
Awake up my glory (1994) [2:50]
Salve Regina (2008) [3:34]
O sacrum convivium (2001) [3:01]
All wisdom cometh from the Lord (1980) [9:28]
Three Pieces for Withycombe (organ solo) [6:42]
Thou art my life [5:37]
Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in B flat (The Third Service) [7:25]
Dance-Rondo (organ solo) [4:31]
The Song of the Roses (1986) [5:22]
In Memoriam (1987)* [15:52]
Cantate Domino and Deus Misereatur (Alternative Evening Canticles) [6:47]
*Susan Hamilton (soprano); Jonathan Vaughn (organ)
The Exon Singers/Matthew Owens
rec. Wells Cathedral, 1-3 January, 11-12 February 2009. DDD
Texts and English translations included
REGENT REGCD315 [71:15]

Philip Moore served with distinction as Organist and Master of the Music at York Minster from 1983 to 2008. This CD reveals him to be a fine composer also.

Perhaps it’s unsurprising that a man steeped in the English cathedral tradition – he served at Canterbury and Guildford cathedrals before moving to York – should make such effective settings of the Evening Canticles as are performed here. And how refreshing to find a setting of the too-rarely heard alternative canticles, Psalms 98 and 67. These were composed for Jesus College, Cambridge and it was at Moore’s suggestion that he set these canticles rather than the ‘Mag’ and ‘Nunc’ originally requested. The setting of Psalm 98 is jubilant and strongly rhythmical, culminating in an exuberant doxology, and it features an important organ part. The setting of Psalm 67 mixes passages of more reflective music with joyful sections; here the doxology is more inwardly prayerful in tone.

The standard ‘Mag’ and ‘Nunc’ texts themselves are also impressively set in Moore’s Third Service. These are alternatim settings and the polyphonic verses are closely related to the music of the chant sections. The music for both canticles has a timeless evening feel.

In Memoriam is for solo soprano accompanied by organ. In this extended piece Jonathan Vaughn provides a most sensitive accompaniment, as he does in several of the choral pieces, and he gives admirable support to the excellent soloist, Susan Hamilton. Moore has taken texts from a variety of sources, including the Salisbury Diurnal, the Book of Common Prayer and Psalm 84 and has woven them into a seamless whole. I greatly admired Miss Hamilton’s exemplary diction and her clear, focused tone. The nature of much of the music is reflective but one section (8:04 – 10:34), where Moore sets some lines by C L Drawbridge, is much more dramatic. My attention was also drawn to the concluding section (from 13:32), which is a short, ecstatic setting of the text ‘Holy is the true light’, and which closes with soft, radiant ‘Alleluias’, as the work began. In Memoriam is an eloquent, impressive piece and its appearance on disc, and in such a fine performance, is to be welcomed.

I should also mention that Jonathan Vaughn has two solo items. Three Pieces for Withycombe were written for the composer’s mother to play at her village church. They’re straightforward and nice pieces – no pedal parts – and the third one, ‘Postlude’ is a delight. As its title suggests, Dance-Rondo is rooted in dance rhythms. It’s very likeable and Jonathan Vaughn gives an excellent, crisp account of it.

Among the choral items, Salve Regina was written for The Exon Singers and it’s for unaccompanied SSATBB choir. Arch-like in form, the quiet opening and ending frame a more intense central section. O sacrum convivium, for SATB, is also unaccompanied. It’s a fine little composition, reflective and devotional in tone.

Though it lasts for less than ten minutes All wisdom cometh from the Lord is a significant piece. After a vigorous opening the music slows for a bass solo (2:14 – 4:42), beginning at ‘To whom hath the root of wisdom been revealed?’ The solo part contains a particularly magisterial phrase, first heard at the words ‘the Lord sitting upon his throne’, and repeated to different words a few moments later. The soloist, Christopher Sheldrake, sings with feeling. However, as I’ve noted on some other discs from Wells, he has too wide a vibrato for my taste and sometimes seems to push the tone. After the bass solo the vigorous opening music returns before the extended and rather beautiful closing section (from 6:04), beginning at ‘Teach me thy statutes’. This tranquil passage is dominated by a plainsong melody in the soprano line.

All wisdom cometh from the Lord is an impressive piece but so too are the others in this collection. This is music that reflects a lifetime’s experience of writing and performing music for voices and organ. The craftsmanship seems to me to be fastidious and the choice of texts is discerning and these texts frequently inspire a very eloquent musical response. Impressive too are the performances, with Matthew Owens once again showing what a fine choral trainer he is and drawing out committed singing from his excellent choir. All this music was new to me – most of the works are here recorded for the first time - but I enjoyed it very much. Philip Moore’s expertly written and very attractive music has been well served on this very welcome disc.

John Quinn

Philip Moore’s expertly written and very attractive music has been well served on this very welcome disc.