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William HAYES (1708-1777)
Music for the Georgian University
Overture: The Passions – An Ode to Music [4:04]
Chorus: ‘Thy wide extended pow’r’ (The Passions) [5:18]
O Worship the Lord [8:17]
Psalm 23: Lo! My Shepherd’s hand divine [3:40]
Lord, how long wilt thou be angry [3:40]
Organ Concerto in G [21:20]
William WALOND (1719-1768)
Voluntary in G [20:13]
William HAYES
Sinfonia: The Fall of Jericho [8:54]
The Hundredth Psalm [3:34]
The Choir of Keble College, Oxford
Instruments of Time & Truth/Matthew Martin (organ)
rec. Keble College Chapel, 2017
CRD RECORDS 3534 [79:12]

The music of William Hayes is little known outside England or indeed the Oxford context. It is therefore very good to see Oxford-based artists celebrating Hayes now, with his own celebratory music, by dedicating almost an entire CD to his compositions. Hayes himself was organist of Magdalen College from 1734 onwards, playing not only the mighty instrument there, but also an eminent role in Oxford’s musical life for the next 30 years. He had been one of the driving forces in building the Holywell Music Room – the oldest purpose-built music room in Europe – and was made D. Mus one year later in 1749. In his compositions, Handel’s influence can clearly be seen, which becomes very obvious in his nearly Messiah-like setting of ‘Whom then does Jericho deride; Will she in gates of brass rejoice’ (from The Fall of Jericho, one of the first oratorios written by an English composer). However, Hayes seems to have been open to various influences, both contemporary and historic. Although nothing of his instrumental music was published during his lifetime, his printed vocal works were hugely popular with both amateur and professional musicians. His case proves that sometimes it is worth directing one’s eyes and ears towards the array of Handel’s English composing contemporaries, of whom there are many more worth listening to than readily meet the ear.

Matthew Martin, director of Music at Keble College and conductor of its choir, is an award-winning composer who read music at Magdalen College – the very place where Hayes was organist back in his time. The Choir of Keble College consists mainly of choral scholars, who regularly tour Britain and Europe. Although one could argue that it might have been more suitable for the Choir of Magdalen College to participate in this recording (Keble was only founded 100 years after Hayes’ death), the Keble Choir’s execution of this task is marvellous – here we clearly have a choir which knows what it is doing, with very clear and straight voices that truly underline the mood of exultation.

With the focus being so much on Oxford, it is only natural that the orchestra which joins forces with the choir also belongs right at the heart of Oxford’s musical scene. Instruments of Time and Truth was founded in 2014 to provide a platform for international performers residing in and around Oxford, often holding positions with established groups such as the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Their name inspired by Handel’s The Triumph of Time and Truth, they aim at presenting performances of baroque and classical music in Oxford and the surrounding region, as well as reaching a wider audience, especially now that their first CD has been released, in this particular case helping to raise awareness of Hayes’ musical output.

The CD comes with a booklet (in English only), which contains rather brief background information on Hayes and the compositions on this CD, as well as on the featured artists. All in all, it is a very interesting CD and a good way of being introduced to Hayes. The Oxford context adds an interesting layer of history that is worth knowing and both choir and orchestra help in embedding the music into the sphere it was original composed for. It would be great to see this very first recording of Hayes Ceremonial Music trigger the wider use of some of his compositions, be it for future festive occasions within the university or beyond.

Maximilian Burgdörfer

Previous review: Johan van Veen

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