Sunday, 5 July 2009

Choral Songs in Honour of Queen Victoria

A.M. GOODHART (1866-1941) Lady on the silver throne (Edmund Gosse) Arthur SOMERVELL (1863-1937) With still increasing benefits (Marquis of Lorne) C.H. LLOYD (1849-1919) A thousand years, by sea and land (Henry Newbolt) Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) To her beneath whose steadfast star (Frederic W.H. Myers) C.V. STANFORD (1852-1924) Out in the windy West (Arthur C. Benson Sir Frederick BRIDGE (1844-1924) For all the wonder of thy regal day (Earl of Crewe) Sir John STAINER (1840-1901) Flora's Queen (J.F.R. Stainer) Charles WOOD (1866-1926) A Century's Penultimate (Arthur C. James) Sir A.C. MACKENZIE (1847-1935) With wisdom, goodness, grace (Alfred Austin) Sir Hubert PARRY (1848-1918) Who can dwell with greatness! (Austin Dobson) H. Walford DAVIES (1869-1941) Hark! The world is full of thy praise (Robert Bridges) Sir George MARTIN (1844-1916) The seaboards are her mantle's hem (John Davidson) Sir Walter PARRATT (1841-1924) The Triumph of Victoria (T.H. Warren)Spiritus Chamber Choir/Aidan Oliver TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC 0012

Recently I had the pleasure of reviewing this fine CD of High-Victorian choral music. I began by noting that:-
I have been waiting for this collection for many years. Ever since I heard a recording of the 1953 A Garland for the Queen and did a little bit of research into the history and genesis of that project, I have known of the existence of these thirteen excellent examples of Victorian part-song composition. The only problem was that I had never heard any of them. The score is also hard to obtain, there having been only 100 copies in the original print run. So it is hardly likely to turn up in the Oxfam Shop alongside the Crucifixion and Olivet to Calvary.

The idea of a set of Choral Songs for the Queen was an emulation of the great volume of music published by Thomas Morley, The Triumphs of Oriana. This was dedicated to Good Queen Bess, Queen Elizabeth I. Some three hundred years later, Walter Parratt, the then organist at St. George's Chapel in Windsor, and the writer Arthur Benson collaborated in selecting poets and composers to produce these madrigals for Queen Victoria's 80th birthday which fell on 24 May 1899. A goodly number of poets and authors produced a series of fine and inspiring texts.

Toccata has done the British music enthusiast proud. Here is a collection of music and texts by the great and the good from the dying days of the nineteenth century. It is a series of part-songs or madrigals that are worthy of the composers and poets represented. It has a stature that easily allows it to claim a place as a successor of its earlier model and the precursor of its more recent successor. It is the premier recording of this work.

These Choral Songs in Honour of Her Majesty Queen Victoria represent the high-water mark of Victorian choral writing and certainly reveal a supremely confident picture of the state of music shortly before the 'official' Renaissance began in earnest.

Please read the full review at MusicWeb International

No comments: