And Comes the Day - Carols and Antiphons for Advent
The Choir of Queens’ College Cambridge
The Queens’ Chapel Players/Silas Wollston
rec. 19-21 March 2012, Queens’ College Chapel
Full texts and translations included
Detailed Track-Listing at end of review
The season of Advent was always seen as a time of expectation and rather like Lent a period of abstinence and contemplation. On this excellent disc Dr. Silas Wollston, Director of the Choir of Queen’s College Cambridge, has devised a programme that draws on medieval texts and a selection of the familiar and less well known. This is a serious recital, which must be similar to their Advent service. Recorded in Queen’s College Chapel the sound of the 24 singers is perfectly captured and allows the listener to be immersed in the glorious music. The mixed voice choir mainly comprised Undergraduates and in term-time they sing three times a week in the chapel.
Antiphons by the excellent Bob Chilcott were written in 2004 for the Cathedral Choir in Reykjavik. There is a continuous theme throughout the seven pieces, based on prophecies from “Isaiah”; the effect is ethereal. There is a recurring theme of the rose, which refers to the Virgin Mary. John Joubert’s fine “There is no Rose of such virtue” is followed by Boris Ord’s version of “Adam lay ybounden” which is a feature of the famous King’s College Carol service. The strength of the choir is shown well in the next few pieces before we hear the Queen’s Chapel Players in Charpentier’s “Or nous dites, Marie” which is very fine. It’s always good to hear Britten’s “A Hymn to the Virgin” and the choir sing this and the Walton movingly.

The variety of this record continues with carols by Arvo Pärt and two compositions from Praetorius including the popular “In dulci jubilo”. I’m pleased to hear “I saw a sweet and seemly sight” by Silas Wollston, which the Director wrote for this choir who sing it beautifully. I’ve listened to several versions of Peter Warlock’s “Bethlehem Down” and this is undoubtedly one of the best. The disc ends with the lesser known “Benedicamus Domino” which brings the joy of the “day” having come.
I’ve been surprised this year by the high quality of “Seasonal” records and by their variety. Yes, there are a few pieces that reappear but the ingenuity of the selections has been impressive. This disc is something special in concentrating on Advent and catches the mood of anticipation very well indeed. The singing and playing are first class and has been very well captured by the producers. There are good notes by Silas Wollston. Texts and brief biographies are there in clear, if rather small, print. Definitely a record to play during the Advent season and at other times!
A serious and thought-provoking collection of Advent works very finely performed
  David R Dunsmore
A serious and thought-provoking collection of Advent works very finely performed.

Full Track-Listing

1 Advent Prose: “Drop down ye heavens from above”, Plainsong [2:15]
Bob CHILCOTT (b.1955)
Advent Antiphons (2004)
2 “Sapientia” [1:55]
3 “Adonaï” [1:35]
4 “Radix Jesse” [1:25]
5 “Clavis David” [2:08]
6 “Oriens” [1:55]
7 “Rex gentium” [1:30]
8 “Emmanuel” [1:40]
9 John JOUBERT (b.1927)
“There is no Rose of such virtue” (1954) [2:16]
10 Boris ORD (1897-1961)
“Adam lay ybounden” [1:28]
Giovanni Pierluigi da PALESTRINA (1525/6-1594) (arr. Rutter and Willcocks)
11 Matin Responsory:” I look from afar” [2:49]
Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER (1643-1704)
12 (arr. S. Wollston) Noël: “Or nous dites, Marie” (c.1690) [2:30]
13 (ed. J.Skidmore) Antiphon:”O Clavis David” (c.1690) [2:13]
14 Noël: Joseph est bien marie (c.1690) [1:07]
15 ANON “There is no Rose of such virtue” (1420) [3:29]
16 Benjamin BRITTEN (1913-1976) “A Hymn to the Virgin” (1930 rev.1934) [3:26]
17 William WALTON (1902-1983) “All this time” (1970) [1:32]
18 Arvo PÄRT (b.1935) Antiphon: “O Morgenstern (1988 rev.1991) [1:53]
Hieronymus PRAETORIUS (1560-1629)
19 “Magnificat” (1599 rev.1622) [7:15]
20 “In dulci jubilo” (1599 rev 1622) [1:54]
21 Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983) “A Spotless Rose” (1919) [3:17]
22 ANON “Veni veni Emanuel” (French 15th.C) [3:30]
23 Silas WOLLSTON (b.1971) “I saw a sweet and seemly sight” (2012) [3:22]
Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930)
24 “Bethlehem Down” (1927) [4:22]
25 “Benedicamus Domino” [1:38]