Wednesday 9 January 2019

A year at Lincoln

A year at Lincoln - Regent Records
Byrd, Mendelssohn, SS Wesly, Hawes, Parsons, Tallis, Chilcott, Finxi, Bingham, Elgar, Wood Blatchly, Brahms, Taverner, RVW; The choir of Lincoln Cathedral, Aric Prentice; Regent Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 8 January 2019 Star rating: 3.0 (★★★)
An imaginative attempt to capture the church's year in music as reflected by musical life at Lincoln Cathedral

The work of a cathedral choir goes on day by day, reflecting the changes in the Church's year, and this new disc on Regent from Aric Prentice and the choir of Lincoln Cathedral attempts to reflect something of this. 

A Year at Lincoln takes us from Advent, through Christmas, Lent, Easter, the Ascension through to the Feast of Christ the King, with various more local celebrations incorporated such as Bishop Edward King and St Hugh, with music ranging from the Renaissance to the present day, including Judith Bingham, Mark Blatchly, Bob Chilcott, and Patrick Hawes. For some of the items the choir is joined by assistant director of music Jeffrey Makinson playing the cathedral's Father Willis organ, and by Sgt Tom Ringrose (trumpet) for Mark Blatchly's For the fallen.

The programme is quite eclectic, and certainly not simply a selection of greatest hits.
Whilst we do start with a vigorous account of William Byrd's Vigilate, and the carol Ding! dong! merrily on high (in an imaginative arrangement by Mack Willberg made for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, with a sparkling organ part created by Peter Steven for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King's College, Cambridge in 2007), Epiphany is commemorated with an excerpt from Mendelssohn's incomplete final oratorio Christus, an imaginative take on the festival.

For the commemoration of Bishop Edward King (Bishop of Lincoln from 1885 to 1910), the text for the anthem My dearest wish is based on King's sayings compiled by Canon Andrew Hawes, a priest in the diocese of Lincoln, a Prebendary of the Cathedral and brother to the composer Patrick Hawes, whose lovely, thoughtful anthem this is. Bob Chilcott's Thy arising sets text by another writer associated with the cathedral, the poet George Herbert. The text is very much associated with RVW's Five Mystical Songs (of which more anon), but here Chilcott creates a very different, thoughtful feel. Judith Bingham's Corpus Christi Carol (for Corpus Christi of course) was written for A choir book for the Queen to celebrate the Queen's diamond jubilee. With a haunting organ accompaniment, this is a fascinating and mystical piece. Mark Blatchly's For the Fallen commemorating Remembrance Sunday with a setting of Laurence Binyon's famous poem, gives the trebles of the choir their moment

Earlier pieces on the disc include not only the Byrd, but Robert Parson's Ave Maria (Annunciation), Thomas Tallis' Salvator Mundi (Good Friday), and John Taverner's Christe Jesu, pastor bone (The Feast of Christ the king).

The centrepiece of the disc must by the fine performance of Gerald Finzi's God is Gone up, but Elgar's Benedictus in F Op.34 no. 2 (written for the Three Choirs Festival in 1897) makes a striking effect too. The whole sequence ends with a commemoration of George Herbert, a stirring performance of RVW's Antiphon from Five Mystical Songs.

The choir, as represented on this disc, uses 22 trebles (a mixture of boys and girls), four altos (a mixture of men and women), five tenors and four basses. I was lucky enough to catch the trebles live in November last year in the performance of Britten's War Requiem in the Cathedral [see my review].

Aric Prentice and Lincoln Cathedral Choir
Aric Prentice and Lincoln Cathedral Choir
The choir is in strong form, and whilst you can imagine other performances of individual items being library choices, there is something appealing about the vigour with which the performers attack Aric Prentice's imaginative programme. This provides a lovely picture not only of the musical life of the cathedral, but of its choir.

Vigilate William Byrd [4:42]
Ding! dong! merrily on high 16thc French, arr Mack Wilberg and Peter Stevens [2:44]
There shall a star from Jacob come forth from Christus Felix Mendelssohn [6:28]
Wash me throughly Samuel Sebastian Wesley [4:06]
My dearest wish Patrick Hawes [4:58]
Ave Maria Robert Parsons [4:45]
Were you there? Spiritual, arr Richard Lloyd [4:18]
Salvator mundi Thomas Tallis [2:46]
Thy arising Bob Chilcott [5:00]
God is gone up Gerald Finzi [5:09]
Corpus Christi Carol Judith Bingham [4:05]
Benedictus in F, Op 34 no 2 Edward Elgar [6:36]
O Thou, the central orb Charles Wood [3:56]
For the fallen Mark Blatchly [4:46]
Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen from A German Requiem Johannes Brahms [5:28]
Christe Jesu, pastor bone John Taverner [3:13]
Antiphon from Five Mystical Songs Ralph Vaughan Williams [3:15]
Choir of Lincoln Cathedral
Jeffrey Makinson (organ)
Sgt Tom Ringrose (trumpet)
Aric Prentice (director)
Recorded in Lincoln Cathedral 5-7 June 2018
Available from Amazon.

Elsewhere on this blog:
  • Handel at Cannons: Chandos Te Deum and Chandos Anthem No. 8 from Adrian Butterfield, London Handel Orchestra and soloists (★★★★★)  - CD review
  • Seeing out the old year and seeing in the new: Tony Cooper at the Tiroler Festpiele, Erl (★★★★) - concert review
  • Ancient and modern: Liam Byrne, a viola da gamba and a laptop at Baroque at the Edge (★★★★½) - concert review
  • Diverse tapestry: Clare Norburn's Burying the Dead at Baroque at the Edge (★★★★) - music theatre review
  • Rediscovering her Polish musical roots: violinist Jennifer Pike on the personal connections in her latest disc, The Polish Violin - interview 
  • Strong and vibrant: Tallis masses and motets from the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court (★★★★) - CD review
  • Bach's Goldberg Variations - CD review
  • 2018 in opera and concert reviews - article
  • Concerto for silent soloists: my encounter with Gavin Sutherland, music director of English National Ballet - interview
  • That Old Thing: remembering Covent Garden's revivals of historic productions in the 1980s - article
  • The Medieval Tendency - article
  • Bach's Christmas Oratorio at the St John's Smith Square Christmas Festival (★★★★) - concert review
  • Illuminating a neglected work: John Andrews & the BBC Concert Orchestra revive Sir Arthur Sullivan's sacred oratorio, The Light of the World  (★★★★★)  - CD review
  • Seasonal touches: The Tallis Scholas & Peter Phillips at St John's Smith Square's Christmas Festival (★★★★) - concert review
  • Home

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