Hear, O Heav’ns: Chapel Royal
Anthems John BLOW
The Lord even the most mighty God [7:53] O Lord, thou hast searched me [6:14] Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
I will love Thee, O Lord, ZN67 [5:52] O Lord our Governor, Z39 [8:51] Matthew LOCKE (1622-1677)
How doth the city sit solitary, H8 [8:36] Henry PURCELL
Blessed is he whose unrighteousness is forgiven, Z8 [8:53] Pelham HUMPHREY (?1647-1674)
Hear, O Heav’ns [5:00] Henry PURCELL
Who hath believed our report? Z64 [8:54] Out of the deep have I called, Z45 [7:07] Hear me, O Lord, and that soon, Z13a/13b [7:07]
Andrew Olleson (counter-tenor); Andrew Carwood (tenor); William
Clements (bass); Robert MacDonald (bass); Stephen Farr (organ)
Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford/Stephen Darlington
rec. Dorchester Abbey, Oxon, England, 13-14 March 1995. DDD.
NIMBUS NI5454 [74:27]
This disc has already been finely and extensively reviewed
on this site by Brian Wilson, so mine is a very much smaller
and less expert critique of the essential qualities of an anthology
recorded back in 1995 and still very much in the catalogue.
The focus is music for the Chapel Royal, anthems written by
Purcell, Blow, Locke and Humphrey. They’re all performed by
Christ Church Cathedral Choir directed by Stephen Darlington,
one of a goodly number of discs by this choir on Nimbus. Again
they’re recorded away from home, this time, as before, and successfully
so, in Dorchester Abbey.
The disc begins with Blow and his The Lord even the most
mighty God in which the solo vocal honours are taken by
bass Robert MacDonald. He’s a bit ‘two-voiced’ and the upper
and lower parts of the voice never quite marry, but he sings
with suitably sonorous declamation and he’s perceptively accompanied
not least by organist Stephen Farr. O Lord, thou hast searched
me has two soloists - the two bass team of William Clements
and MacDonald, and their control of this slow and intense music
is sure and confident.
Matthew Locke’s How doth the city sit solitary includes
writing for two excellent trebles, and the choral voices flow
and fuse throughout the slow-moving writing generating a true
sense of pathos – undemonstrative, concentrated, and rich in
feeling. Pelham Humphrey, often unjustly the handmaiden in such
mixed recordings, contributes the ‘album title track’, Hear,
O Heav’ns. This is a spirited but essentially quite straightforward
setting, richly and warmly sung with roles for three soloists.
One of the three is Andrew Carwood, now well known in his own
right as a choral director, and he impresses equally when he
takes a solo voice part in Purcell’s Blessed is he whose
unrighteousness is forgiven. The booklet track information
contains a salutary typo, claiming it’s ‘righteousness’ that’s
being forgiven — which would be a turn-up for the books. Again
apt organ registrations, fine solo singing and a good choral
tone ensure a successful performance – though once again the
slowness of the music, its gravity and deliberation makes for
a recital that does tend to lack contrast of mood, texture and
rhythm; though in this anthem the faster section does offer
metrical relief. Similar virtues inform the other two Purcell
anthems – excellent solo singing once again, being a principal
A few brief questions aside, notably a similarity of mood, this
is a most enjoyably and intelligently conceived disc.
There are no texts.
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