Hear, O Heav’ns: Chapel Royal Anthems
John BLOW (1649-1708)
The Lord even the most mighty God
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]
Blessed is he whose unrighteousness is forgiven
, Z8 [8:53]
Pelham HUMPHREY (?1647-1674)
Hear, O Heav’ns
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 feature.
A few brief questions aside, notably a similarity of mood, this is a most enjoyably and intelligently conceived disc.
There are no texts.
Jonathan Woolf
A most enjoyably and intelligently conceived disc.