Epiphany at St Paul’s
Alwyn SURPLICE (1906-1977)
Brightest and best of the sons of the morning [3:14]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
When Jesus our Lord (from Christus) [6:53]
William BYRD (1539/40-1623)
Praise our Lord, all ye Gentiles [3:12]
Senex puerum portabat [2:23]
Anon Coventry Carol [2:43]
O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness [3:09]
Jacob HANDL (1550-1591)
Omnes de Saba venient [2:02]
Luca MARENZIO (1553/4-1590)
Tribus miraculis [2:57]
Judith BINGHAM (b.1952)
Epiphany [4:15]
Peter CORNELIUS (1824-1874)
The Three Kings [2:41]
William CROTCH (1775-1847)
Lo! Star-led chiefs [5:20]
Sir Frederick Arthur GORE OUSELEY (1825-1889)
From the rising of the sun [2:34]
Samuel Sebastian WESLEY (1810-1876)
Ascribe unto the Lord [14:54]
Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983)
Here is the little door [3:49]
Johannes ECCARD (1533-1611)
When to the temple Mary went [3:37]
Christopher DEARNLEY (1930-2000)
The growing limbs of God the Son [3:14]
Gustav HOLST (1874-1934)
Nunc dimittis [3:36]
The Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral/John Scott
Huw Williams (organ)
rec. St Paul’s Cathedral, London, 7-8, 12-13 February 2001
texts and English translations included
I have listened to and reviewed with great pleasure reissues on the Helios label of two recordings made in the late 1980s of the Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral singing the Evening Canticles. This much later recording is, if anything, even better and more welcome. The choir seems to have even more confidence, the recording skilfully manages to overcome the inherent problems of recording in the Cathedral without losing the sense of the distinct acoustic of the building. The choice of music is more varied, being no longer restricted to settings of the same texts. The choice is indeed very well made, avoiding the most obvious pieces related to Epiphany - apart from Cornelius’ The Three Kings, in the arrangement by Sir Ivor Atkins, but sounding more convincing than usual. The highlights include Wesley’s wonderful Ascribe unto the Lord, a much larger scale structure than is usual for Anglican anthems, but supremely well constructed, exciting and moving. At the other extreme are Holst’s tiny but concentrated Nunc dimittis and Crotch’s naïve and even ebullient Lo! Star-led chiefs, both always welcome, especially when performed as well as they are here.
The works are arranged in an order which makes for very satisfying listening. Even the three Hymns included do not outstay their welcome but make a suitable contrast with the more concentrated works in the rest of the programme. There are good notes by William McVicker, full texts and, where necessary, translations.
I usually find that listening to Christmas discs is an infallible way to make me feel Scrooge-like and resistant to apparent enforced bonhomie. This is a glorious exception to that rule; a musically and emotionally satisfying seasonal feast. Reissued at a bargain price it would surely be an ideal Christmas gift - if you could bear to give it away.
John Sheppard
A musically and emotionally satisfying seasonal feast.