The Complete Psalms of David Volume 2 - Psalms 20-36
Samuel Sebastian WESLEY (1810-1876)
Psalm 20 [2:37]
Philip TAYLOR (1892-1988)
Psalm 21 [3:27]
Samuel Sebastian WESLEY/Herbert OAKELEY (1830-1903)
Psalm 22 [7:32]
John STAINER (1840-1901)
Psalm 23 [2:20]
William HARRIS (1883-1973)
Psalm 24 [2:50]
Cyril MUSGROVE (1860-1920)/ James DEAR (1872-1953)
Psalm 25 [5:15]
Charles NAYLOR (1869-1965)
Psalm 26 [2:57]
James TURLE (1802-1882)/ Edmund CHIPP (1823-1886)
Psalm 27 [4:47]
David HALLS (b. 1963)/ Frederick OUSELEY (1825-1889)
Psalm 28 [3:09]
Thomas ATTWOOD (1765-1838)
Psalm 29 [2:57]
Francis JACKSON (b. 1917)/ William MORLEY (c1680-1731)/ Edward HIGGINS (d. 1769)
Psalm 30 [3:32]
Richard SHEPHARD (b. 1949)/ Chares SOUTH (1850-1916)/ Walter ALCOCK (1861-1947)
Psalm 31 [7:22]
George MARTIN (1844-1916)
Psalm 32 [3:31]
Henry CARPENTER (1854-1936)/ Walter ALCOCK/ Thomas ATTWOOD
Psalm 33 [5:23]
Henry BELLRINGER (circa 19th century)/ John CAMIDGE (1790-1859)
Psalm 34 [5:00]
George GARRETT (1834-1897)/ Edward BAIRSTOW (1874-1936)
Psalm 35 [7:30]
William CROTCH (1775-1847)/ William MARSH (1757-1818)
Psalm 36 [3:42]
Choir of Salisbury Cathedral/David Halls
Daniel Cook (organ)
English texts included
rec. 14-16 February, 2011, Salisbury Cathedral. DDD
PRIORY PRCD 1058 [75:06]
This is the second instalment of Priory’s new complete recording of the Psalms of David. I reviewed the previous volume, from Exeter Cathedral, not long ago. Now we are in the hands of the choir of Salisbury Cathedral who pick up where their Exeter colleagues left off, with the second psalm for Morning Prayer on Day 4 of the month, Psalm 20, and going through to the psalms appointed for Morning Prayer on Day 7, Psalms 35 and 36.
Only one composer, James Turle, is represented here as well as in Volume 1. Like Andrew Millington at Exeter, David Halls has included several chants composed by musicians with connections to the cathedral. So, in addition to a chant by Halls himself there are chants by two of his predecessors in the organ loft at Salisbury, Charles South, who served from 1883 to 1916 and Walter Alcock (1817-1947). Henry Carpenter, whose chant is used for part of Psalm 33, was Precentor of the cathedral between 1896 and 1936 and Richard Shephard was an alto lay vicar (1970-1985) before becoming Headmaster of the Minster School in York.
The chants are well chosen. Philip Taylor’s strong chant in the solidly positive key of D major, for example, is a good one to convey the message of Psalm 21. Equally, William Harris’s chant in the much more remote key of D flat major, is used to impart suitable grandeur to Psalm 24. Perhaps most striking of all is Thomas Attwood’s chant for Psalm 29. The chant ranges widely, from the depths of the trebles’ register right up to the top and it’s a fine companion to the words of the psalm. It’s sung and played with a good sense of drama too, the boys singing with evident relish.
Psalm 21could be described as a “Salisbury Psalm” here. It’s lengthy and, wisely, David Halls has selected no less than three chants to vary the delivery and, of course, to complement the changing moods of the text. The chants by Richard Shephard, Charles South and Walter Alcock, which follow each other, fit well together and each one suits well the sentiments of the verses with which it is coupled. David Halls’ own chant, which is used for roughly the first half of Psalm 28 is effective also and when we reach Psalm 33 we find that though Rev. Henry Carpenter was presumably not a professional musician he was sufficiently versed in psalmody that he could pen a good chant.
Some of the composers are very obscure figures nowadays. It will be noted that it hasn’t been possible to establish properly the dates of birth and death of the delightfully named Henry Bellringer and the names of one or two others, such as Edward Higgins and Edmund Chipp, retain only the most precarious repute today, even ‘in quires and places where they sing’.
In 1991 Salisbury famously became the first English cathedral to establish a foundation for girl choristers and now the girls and boys share the responsibility for the choir’s treble line. On this occasion, however, we don’t hear the girls; it’s an all-male choir on this disc. The choir sings well throughout. Their diction is consistently good so that the rich imagery of the verses comes through well. Thus, even without following the texts in the booklet the listener can savour lines such as:-
Let a sudden destruction come upon him unawares, and his net, that he hath laid privily, catch himself, that he may fall into his own mischief.” (Psalm 35, v 8)
David Halls has been Director of Music at Salisbury since 2005. It is clear from this recording that he has trained his choir very well indeed, not just in singing but also in putting across the imagery and spirit of the psalms. Since this recording was made Daniel Cook, then the Assistant Director of Music, has moved on after six years at Salisbury; he became Organist and Master of the Choristers at St. David’s Cathedral in November 2011. Here he provides thoughtful, supportive accompaniments to the chants, using the range of colours available on the Salisbury organ very imaginatively. The recording catches the choir and organ very well and reports a good balance between the two.
This disc builds on the strong start to the new series that was made in Exeter. Further volumes are awaited eagerly. One final word. Not long ago BBC television made an excellent programme, Angelic Voices. The Choristers of Salisbury Cathedral. The programme follows the boy and girl choristers through the course of a year and presents a most interesting and involving picture of what it’s like - and what it means - to be a chorister at one of England’s great cathedrals. If you haven’t yet seen it I heartily recommend it and I see from the names listed in Priory’s booklet that some of the young, able and enthusiastic singers who featured in that programme were also on duty for this excellent recording.
John Quinn
A second excellent instalment.