A Year at Truro
The truth from above (arr. Vaughan Williams) [3:02]
Paul DRAYTON (b. 1944)
The World’s Desire (2008) [3:30]
Sans Day Carol (2009) (arr. Philip Stopford) [3:12]
David BEDNALL (b. 1979)
Noe, noe (2010) [3:12]
John Henry HOPKINS
We three kings (arr. Philip Stopford) [3:33]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Warum ist das Licht gegeben? [10:02]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Ave Maria [4:05]
Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Christus factus est [5:48]
Arr. Charles WOOD (1866-1926)
This joyful Eastertide [2:34]
Gerald FINZI (1901-1956)
God is gone up [4:46]
Grayson IVES (b. 1948)
Listen, sweet dove [3:27]
David CHEETHAM (b. 1943)
Blessed be the Holy Trinity [2:34]
William WALTON (1902-1983)
The Twelve [11:27]
Edward BAIRSTOW (1874-1946)
Blessed city, heavenly Salem [9:47]
Jonathan DOVE (b. 1959)
Seek him that maketh the seven stars [6:43]
Choir of Truro Cathedral/Christopher Gray
Luke Bond (organ)
rec. 10-13 May 2011, Truro Cathedral DDD
Original texts and English translations included
REGENT REGCD377 [77:44]
Regent continue their valuable series in which cathedral choirs perform a programme of music that takes us through the major seasons and feasts of the church’s year, starting in Advent. We’ve already been to York (review) and there have also been visits to Winchester (REGCD372) and Southwark (REGCD376), though I’ve not heard those discs. Now the tour reaches Cornwall.
As I think is usual with this series the programme includes a number of pieces with specific connections to the cathedral in question. So, for example, the carols by Paul Drayton, Philip Stopford and David Bednall were all commissioned for the Truro Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, a service which, as is gently but firmly pointed out in the booklet, originated not at King’s College, Cambridge but at Truro as long ago as 1880. All three are very attractive offerings; the Bednall piece exploits the cathedral’s Father Willis organ to good effect while the Stopford arrangement of a traditional Cornish carol makes a pleasing alternative to the well-known Rutter version. Philip Stopford also contributes an arrangement of We three kings. I must say that I have a very strong aversion to this carol with its doggerel verse, especially if sung as a congregational item when it invariably drags. However, Stopford’s not-too-serious arrangement is an effective one and for once I actually enjoyed the piece.
There’s more serious fare in the shape of the searching pieces by Brahms and Bruckner. Brahms’ starkly exposed lines, especially those in the first part of the motet, are merciless on the singers. Generally the Truro singers cope well though this was one of a few items in the programme where I felt that sometimes the trebles’ pitching of notes was just a bit “in the crack”; with music like this there’s no hiding-place. The Bruckner motet, one of his very finest, was subject to the same flaw at times. However, whilst it’s fair to point this out one wouldn’t want to make too much of an issue of it; both performances are more than respectable.
The performance of Finzi’s splendid Ascensiontide anthem is a very convincing one. This is one of several occasions in the programme where in addition to committed singing we feel the full benefit of the cathedral’s organ, which is in the evidently capable hands of Luke Bond. I enjoyed Grayson Ives’s gently flowing anthem for Pentecost and also the nice, unassuming offering from local composer David Cheetham.
The last two items on the programme could scarcely be more different from each other. Bairstow’s expressive, romantic anthem is very well done. Christopher Gray and his choir convey the poetry as well as the grandeur of the setting and the beatific music of the final stanza is beautifully delivered. I was delighted to find Jonathan Dove’s keenly imagined Seek him that maketh the seven stars included in the programme and even more delighted that it is given an excellent performance.
The recorded sound is very good and the notes by the cathedral’s Precentor are ideal; here is a clergyman who understands the music as well as he understands the liturgy that the music accompanies. Aside from the one reservation I’ve mentioned the Truro choir acquit themselves very well indeed. This is another good instalment in what is becoming a valuable series.
Another good instalment in what is becoming a valuable series.