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Songs of Sunshine
Antonio VIVALDI Gloria (1st movement)* [2:30]
John RUTTER All things bright and beautiful [3:01]
Sidney CARTER arr. Matthew Owens Lord of the dance [2:57]
Franz BIEBEL Ave Maria [6:00]
John RUTTER Wells Jubilate [4:49]
American trad. arr. Powell Amazing grace [3:17]
Alfred HOLLINS A song of sunshine (organ solo) [4:16]
John RUTTER A Gaelic Blessing [2:20]
Howard GOODALL Love divine [6:22]
George DYSON Magnificat in D [4:33]
Simon LINDLEY Ave Maria [2:56]
George Frideric HANDEL Hallelujah (Messiah)* [3:51]
Norman COCKER Tuba Tune (organ solo) [4:55]
Howard GOODALL The Lord is my Shepherd* [2:59]
Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD Te Deum in B flat [7:02]
Sir Charles Villiers STANFORD Jubilate Deo in B flat [3:29]
George Frideric HANDEL Worthy is the lamb: Amen (Messiah)* [7:35]
Wells Cathedral Choir/*Wells Cathedral School Chamber Orchestra/Jonathan Vaughn (organ)/Matthew Owens
Rec. 2-4 March 2010, Wells Cathedral DDD
English texts included
REGENT REGCD343 [72:57]

Experience Classicsonline

There are two good reasons for buying this CD. One is that it contains an attractive, intelligently chosen programme, which is well performed. The second is that the disc is being sold in support of an estimable charitable cause: the St. Margaret’s Hospice in Taunton, Somerset.
Matthew Owens has been doing some excellent work since he arrived at Wells Cathedral in 2005. He inherited a very good choir from his predecessor, Malcolm Archer, and he has built shrewdly on those foundations. Several of the choir’s CDs have been enthusiastically reviewed on MusicWeb International in recent years.
Here, they present an unashamedly popular programme – such as will attract a wide audience, given the fundraising purpose of this disc. But although the contents of the disc are largely well known, I was pleased to note that the opportunity has been taken to introduce one of two less familiar items to a wider audience. John Rutter’s music needs little introduction but his Wells Jubilate is a recent piece and, as such, may not yet be well known. It was written in 2009 to mark the end of restoration work on the cathedral and this is an excellent chance for the choir for which it was written to show it off. It’s a very good piece with suitably extrovert outer sections encasing a more reflective central section.
Again, Howard Goodall’s setting of The Lord is my Shepherd will be instantly recognised by anyone who has seem the BBC television series, The Vicar of Dibley. But how many people have come across the setting of Charles Wesley’s famous hymn, ‘Love divine, all loves excelling’ that he made in 2000? Goodall’s new tune is a very good one indeed and I’m delighted to find it included here though I have to say that Matthew Owens seems to me to take it at too slow and stately a speed – an earlier recording, which I reviewed, takes nearly two minutes less for the piece.
Other pieces that are, perhaps, less frequently heard than they deserve are the very different but equally excellent settings of Ave Maria by the Austrian, Franz Biebl and by the English organist and conductor, Simon Lindley. Both make a strong impression here. The staple English cathedral repertoire is represented by Dyson and Stanford. Their music will be standard fare for the Wells singers and they perform it with easy familiarity and gusto.
The choir is well supported by the Wells Cathedral School Chamber Orchestra in spirited performances of excerpts from Messiah and the Vivaldi Gloria. Elsewhere, Jonathan Vaughn, the cathedral’s Assistant Organist offers some excellent accompaniments and he also contributes two highly enjoyable solo items by Cocker and Hollins. The whole enterprise is directed by Matthew Owens with all the skill that one has come to associate with his work with the Wells choir; the choral singing is uniformly excellent throughout the programme.
I hope this highly enjoyable and very well performed disc will sell in large numbers. Purchasers should enjoy it very much and they’ll be helping a very worthwhile charitable cause.

John Quinn


A highly enjoyable and very well performed programme








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