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Easter Day at Hereford
Dutch traditional
This joyful Eastertide (arr. Charles Wood, 1866-1926) [2:13]
John SANDERS (1933-2003)

Preces and Responses [1:10 + 6:17]
Edwin MONK (1819-1900)
Easter Anthems [2:25]
Psalm 114 (Tonus Peregrinus) [2:22]
Charles Villiers STANFORD (1852-1924)
Te Deum and Jubilate in C, Op. 115 [7:20 + 3:23]
Ye choirs of new Jerusalem [4:59]
William BYRD (1540-1623)
In resurrectione tua [1:40]
Jean LANGLAIS (1907-1991)
Messe solennelle [18:37]
John TAVERNER (c.1490-1545)
Dum transisset I [7:46]
Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983)
Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (St Paul's Service) [6:31 + 4:59]
Samuel Sebastian WESLEY (1810-1876)
Blessed be the God and Father [7:23]
Hereford Cathedral Choir/Geraint Bowen
Peter Dyke (organ)
rec. April 2015, Hereford Cathedral
REGENT REGCD478 [77:20]

With Lent having begun, it is not too fanciful to look ahead to Easter with this disc. Like other discs from the Regent stable, this brings together a compendium of music comprising the component parts of the liturgical offices for one of the major Christian festivals. For this release Hereford Cathedral Choir brings together a selection of canticles, anthems, a mass and other items for matins, the Eucharist and evensong for Easter day. The pieces will be well-known to devotees of the Anglican choral tradition but their variety gives the choir a chance to demonstrate the different colours and tonal qualities of which they are capable.

The a cappella pieces are crisp and fluid, whether in the vigorously propelled, florid Alleluias of Byrd's In resurrectione tua or in the broader, serenely sung Dum transisset I by Taverner. In the accompanied pieces, the choir sing with a subdued dignity, and although one might look for a bit more drama and dynamism - or could rightly expect it from other, non-ecclesiastical choirs - it is fitting in the context of an Anglican cathedral choir singing works in a liturgical setting. More attention could have been paid to the gradations in volume specified by Stanford in his great C major canticles - as between mezzo-forte, forte and fortissimo - and more of the triple-time lilt in the main section of the Jubilate would have been welcome to point up the contrast with the more sturdy 'Gloria Patri' section. That said, the successful realisation of that rhythm in the same composer's Ye choirs of new Jerusalem is not a problem, where the organ also underpins the joyfulness of the music. Peter Dyke's stylishly implacable repetitions of its ostinato ring out like a peal of bells.

In Howells' St Paul's Service Geraint Bowen draws a passionate but restrained mood from the choir across the long-breathed spans of the music, rising to an ecstatic climax for the Nunc Dimittis. Religious fervour is more extrovert in the riper harmonies of Langlais's Messe solennelle, coming to sound a little relentless or strained at times - for example the first ascent to top C in the Sanctus. Generally however the weight of sound is impressive.

If this CD is less of a draw on account of its standard repertoire, it makes up for this as a worthwhile snapshot of the sound currently being made by one of the more distinctive English cathedral choirs. They know how to exploit the particular acoustic of their home territory.

Curtis Rogers






 




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