This is quite simply a tremendous release. Conceived as a nineteenth-century equivalent to 'The Triumphs of Oriana' (1601), this set of thirteen unaccompanied choral pieces hymns the glories of Queen Victoria and her remarkable era. Only Elgar's setting has been previously recorded.
No less remarkable is the quality of the musical settings, ranging from Stanford's monumental "Out in the Windy West" to Stainer's neo-madrigalian "Flora's Queen", and encompassing the slightly melancholy "Who can dwell with greatness?" by Hubert Parry and the celebratory "Hark! The world is full of thy praise" by Walford Davies. It is hugely significant that Edward Elgar's distinguished contribution puts none of the others to shame. Whilst some of the texts, particularly those enjoining the octogenarian Queen to live for ever, might seem somewhat overblown, there is no doubting the fervent sincerity of the sentiments.
The performance by the Spiritus Chamber Choir under Aidan Oliver is beyond reproach. Impeccable intonation and the widest dynamic range give each piece individuality and yet contribute to a cumulative impression that this is music we should already know. Add to this an ideal recording acoustic and fantastic presentation (a fully illustrated booklet with authoritative notes by Lewis Foreman) and you have one of the most significant releases of British choral music in recent years.