Monday, 2 June 2008

O Sacrum Convivium: A feast of music from the Choir of Royal Holloway University of London

William Byrd Cibavit eos (1605) Tomas Luis de Victoria O magnum mysterium (1572) Thomas Weelkes Alleluia, I heard a voice (c.1600) When David heard (1622) Arvo PÄrt Magnificat (1989) Gustav Holst Nunc Dimittis (1915)Gabriel Jackson O sacrum convivium (1990) Anton Bruckner Christus factus est (1884) Charles Wood Nunc Dimittis in B flat (late 1920s) Robert Walker As the apple tree (1982) Charles Villiers Stanford Ye choirs of New Jerusalem (1910) The Choir of Royal Holloway University of London conducted by Rupert Gough with Samuel Rathbone on the organ.

I recently reviewed this interesting and quite varied CD from Signum Classics. Of course not all the works are by British composers. I opened my review by declaring that “Never has a description of a CD of choral music been more apposite than this one – “A Feast of Music” - from The Choir of Royal Holloway University of London. But this is better than a feast for that word perhaps has overtones of over-indulgence. This is a perfectly balanced meal that will leave the listener totally satisfied and anxious for another visit to the restaurant!”

And of course the briefest of glances at the list of tracks reveals works by a number of well known and aspiring composers. However it is fair to say that I was most impressed by two works by lesser known composers – the eponymous track by Gabriel Jackson and As an Apple Tree by Robert Walker. Both works are fully in the tradition of Anglican Cathedral music and well deserve attention. Of the former I suggest that “this music has poise and balance that reflects the text: ‘O sacred banquets at which Christ is received’”. The latter achieves the allegorical significance of the words which are culled from The Song of Solomon: ‘My beloved spake, and said unto me, rise up, my love, my fair one, come away.’ Truly beautiful stuff.

The CD is brought to a fine close with Charles Villiers Stanford's Ye choirs of New Jerusalem.

Please see my complete review of O Sacrum Convivium at MusicWeb International.

1 comment:

Can Bass 1 said...

Fascinating review of the Royal Holloway Choir; perhaps you'd like to do a similar job for our cathedral choir? The only problem is we haven't got a CD out just yet. I'll keep you posted.