Ronald CORP (b. 1951)
Things I didn’t say (2011) [28.23]
The revival (2004) [6.54]
Never weather-beaten sail (2011) [2.36]
The bells of Paradise (2007) [4.29]
Three medieval carols [7.21]
We will remember them (1995) [7.53]
Ave verum (2009) [2.34]*
Ave Maria (2009) [3.32]*
Psalm 150 (2010) [6.51]
The pilgrim (2004) [4.58]
Edward Batting (organ)
rec. St Alban’s the Martyr, Holborn, London, 19-20 October 2011, *29-30 January 2010
STONE RECORDS 5060192780185 [77.41]
Ronald Corp is best-known nowadays for his work in reviving light music of the twentieth century and for his recordings of British music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, mainly using his New London Orchestra and various choirs. His choral music, however, is decidedly more modern in feel - more like John Tavener than John Rutter. The choir on this release is Corp’s own, but their personnel seem to be highly fluid; the eight singers who performed the two Latin motets in 2010 are a completely different group from the eight who appear in the 2011 recordings which comprise the remainder of this disc.
The main work here is the cycle of unaccompanied partsongs entitled Things I didn’t say, based on a series of poems by Steve Mainwaring on the unpromising subject of his mother’s Alzheimer’s disease. In fact the words are deeply felt and very affecting, neatly skirting the danger of sentimentality. Corp’s settings of the twenty short poems are bound together with some recurring themes, the first coming in the first setting with its final lines “Should I have done the same for you before it was too late?” repeated at the end of the sixth, the fourteenth and the eighteenth. The words are given in full in the booklet, but the diction of the singers in largely homophonic settings is clear throughout.
The remainder of the pieces on this disc comprise a collection of anthems, carols and motets written for church performance, some of them with organ accompaniment well played by Edward Batting. Most of them would have benefited from a larger body of singers, but the choir are never overpowered by the organ and their words - also given in the booklet with translations where required - are always clear. The best of the pieces is the earliest, a deeply effective setting of Lawrence Binyon in We will remember them.The setting of Psalm 150 is on a large scale with an excited middle section; it was originally written with brass accompaniment in mind, and one can imagine it as being even more effective in that form. The carol The bells of Paradise has a nicely chiming organ part, but like the other three ‘medieval’ carols it is probably too elaborate for any but the most experienced of church choirs. The setting of Myn liking closely mirrors Holst’s famous treatment of the same words. Oddly enough the eight singers who perform the Ave verum and Ave Maria have more body than their opposite numbers elsewhere, and are more resonantly recorded - a different producer is credited for these two tracks.
These are all very effective settings which never do any violence to the words, and some are much more than that. Those who are unfamiliar with the music of Ronald Corp as a composer should certainly investigate this disc.
Paul Corfield Godfrey
Those who are unfamiliar with the music of Ronald Corp as a composer should certainly investigate this disc.