One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati








Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: MDT AmazonUK

Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924)
Choral Music
Evening Service in G, Op.81 (1902) [9:12]
The Lord is my Shepherd (1886) [9:40]
Bible Songs and Six Hymns, Op. 113 (1909-1910) [45:32]
Crossing the Bar (1890) [4:06]
For lo, I raise up, Op.145 (1914) [8:58]
Schola Cantorum of Dean Close Preparatory School/Benjamin Nicolas
Carleton Etherington (organ)
rec. Tewkesbury Abbey, 18-19 October 2009; 24-25 May 2010
DELPHIAN DCD34087 [77:28]

Experience Classicsonline
This is an exciting release from Delphian for a number of reasons: the quality of the sound, the singing and the repertoire. However, it is this latter consideration that is perhaps most important. The Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum have chosen a number of works that are less well-known than those presented on many other recordings of Stanford’s music. Most impressive is the complete recording of the Bible Songs and Hymns, Op.113. As far as I am aware there is only one other CD version of the complete work: Winchester Cathedral Choir on Hyperion. This is in many ways a radical work that blurs the distinction between the concert hall and the cathedral. It is a masterpiece that deserves to be better known.

The CD opens with the ‘Evening Service in G’ which was composed in 1902. It was Stanford’s fourth major setting of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer liturgy which included music for Morning and Evening Prayer and Communion. Jeremy Dibble notes that the entire Service contains much fine music, but suggests that it is the evening canticles that have best stood the test of time. Many years ago Edmund Fellowes gave a succinct overview of Stanford’s liturgical settings that holds good to this day: - “... [He] set up a new standard of design and character. His method in setting the canticles has been described as ‘symphonic’. This may be taken to mean that each canticle was designed in a more coherent manner than formerly ... Stanford welded his sections [of the canticles] into a whole, not only by means of well-designed successions of modulation and with a fine sense of proportion in planning his climaxes, but also in use of melodic figures or motives, which by their recurrence bind the work together and give it continuity.” Jeremy Dibble has further noted that Stanford adopts a lieder-orientated style that is entirely appropriate for the ‘songs’ of Mary and Simeon.

The key thing to understand about the Bible Songs and Hymns is that it is quite a revolutionary work. Although the sound-world is very much a part of the Edwardian scene and owes little to ‘contemporary continental experimentation’ this work is both advanced and innovative. What Stanford has done is to fuse ‘secular’ and ‘liturgical’ formats in a single large-scale work. The ‘songs’ are taken from the biblical books of the Psalms, Isaiah and Ecclesiasticus and is given to a soloist. Each ‘song’ is complemented by a ‘hymn’ from the great devotional literature of the church. These include the authors and sources John Milton, William Cowper, and the Scottish Psalter of 1650. More recent words are taken from Robert Bridges. These ‘hymns’ are re-pristinated and elaborated using the musical textures outlined and developed in the ‘song’. They are meant to comment theologically on the accompanying biblical text. The overall effect of this work is to present the listener with a profound examination of the Christian Life. The six songs examine themes of Freedom, Trust, Hope, Peace, Battle and Wisdom. Once again the dichotomy between the secular and the sacred is held in tension. Although the texts are fundamentally Christian, the treatment of the musical material is largely ambiguous – at least in the ‘songs’ which owe more to German lieder than the Anglican Church. It is only in the hymns that the ‘traditional’ message is presented in its glory. Stanford excels himself with the massive setting of Joachim Neander’s words Praise to the Lord which well complements the Song of Battle. The Bible Songs and Hymns were composed in 1909-10.

Three short, but extremely satisfying anthems are presented on this CD. ‘The Crossing of the Bar’ (1890), set to Tennyson’s deeply moving poem ‘Sunset and evening star’ is a subtle contrast between the innocent sound of the boy treble soloist and the deeply felt text that considers matters of death and ‘the hereafter’. Stanford’s setting of the 23rd psalm, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd,’ is enormously attractive. In fact, Herbert Howells has described this anthem as ‘one of the supremely lovely anthems or all our history’. It was written in 1886, largely influenced by Brahms and composed in a near-symphonic and cyclic form that well matches the psalmist’s progression of thought.

The final work on this CD is Stanford’s setting of ‘For Lo I raise up’. It has never seemed to me that the biblical book of Habakkuk is a particularly good resource for composers. However, this ‘late’ work was composed in 1914 and cleverly uses the prophet’s words to provide an analogy to the horrors of the Great War. The judicious selection of words from Habakkuk allows for a positive and inspiring close to the anthem. The imagery of the eagles and horsemen rampaging through the landscape are juxtaposed with a message of hope –‘We shall not die’ and the promise that the ‘Earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord ...’ This to my ear is one of Stanford’s most moving works.

The liner-notes are by the music scholar and Stanford specialist Jeremy Dibble: they deserve to be carefully read. The performance is well-balanced, nuanced and totally sympathetic to Stanford’s achievement. Finally, the works chosen are a showcase for the talents of several boy trebles and other soloists all of whom are members of the choir. Laurence Kilsby who was the 2009 BBC ‘Chorister of the Year’ makes his solo debut on this disc.

John France
























































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.