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English Choral Music [2CD]

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English Choral Music [2CD] + The Choral Collection
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Product details

  • Conductor: Christopher Robinson
  • Composer: Charles Villiers Stanford, Herbert Howells
  • Audio CD (28 Jun 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B0002BXO78
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 49,641 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Disc 1:

Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Magnificat in G, Op. 81Oliver Lepage-Dean 4:13£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Nunc dimittis, Op. 98: Nunc Dimittis in G, Op. 81St. John's College Choir, Cambridge 4:18£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. 3 Latin Motets, Op. 38: No. 1: Justorum AnimaeSt. John's College Choir, Cambridge 3:21£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Ave, verum corpus, Op. 2, No. 1: Ave verum corpus, Op. 2, No. 1St. John's College Choir, Cambridge 2:40£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Psalm 29, Op. 74, "Give Unto The Lord": Give Unto The Lord (Psalm Xxix), Op. 74St. John's College Choir, Cambridge 7:48£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. The CallOliver Lepage-Dean 2:06£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Magnificat, St. Paul'sSt. John's College Choir, Cambridge 6:33£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Magnificat and Nunc dimitis, St. Paul's: Nunc dimitis, St. Paul'sSt. John's College Choir, Cambridge 4:57£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Paean for OrganIain Farrington 6:03£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Take him, earth, for cherishing: Take Him, Earth, for CherishingSt. John's College Choir, Cambridge 7:42£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Litany to the Holy SpiritOliver Lepage-Dean 2:27£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen12. 3 Anthems, Op. 27: Welcome Sweet and Sacred Feast, Op. 27, No. 3St. John's College Choir, Cambridge 7:29£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen13. Tenebrae Motets, Op. 72: Third Nocturn: I. Eram quasi agnus innocensSt. John's College Choir, Cambridge 2:52£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen14. Tenebrae Motets, Op. 72: Third Nocturn: II. Una hora non potuistisSt. John's College Choir, Cambridge 2:02£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen15. Tenebrae Motets, Op. 72: Third Nocturn: III. Seniores populiSt. John's College Choir, Cambridge 2:21£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen16. Magnificat, A flat major, Op. 65St. John's College Choir, Cambridge 4:16£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen17. 3 Anthems, Op. 27: God is gone up, Op. 27 No. 2St. John's College Choir, Cambridge 4:24£0.69  Buy MP3 

Disc 2:

Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Set me as a seal upon thine heartOliver Lepage-Dean 3:35£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Coronation Te DeumSt. John's College Choir, Cambridge 9:47Album Only
Listen  3. Gloria: Gloria from Missa BrevisOliver Lepage-Dean 3:22£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. A Hymn to the VirginWilliam Goldring 3:08£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Jubilate DeoSt. John's College Choir, Cambridge 2:39£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Hymn to St. Cecilia, Op. 27Jonathan Bungard10:16Album Only
Listen  7. The Lord is my Shepherd, Op. 91, No. 1Benjamin Durrant 4:24£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Crux fidelis, Op. 43, No. 1Allan Clayton 6:53£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Look up, sweet babe, Op. 43, No. 2James Geidt 4:32£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen10. MagnificatSt. John's College Choir, Cambridge 5:01£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, "Collegium Magdalenae Oxoniense": Nunc DimittisSt. John's College Choir, Cambridge 3:15£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen12. An Easter SequenceCrispian Steele-Perkins 4:11£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen13. The LambSt. John's College Choir, Cambridge 3:47£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen14. The Lord's PrayerSt. John's College Choir, Cambridge 3:29£0.69  Buy MP3 
Listen15. Song for AtheneSt. John's College Choir, Cambridge 5:40£0.69  Buy MP3 

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Mr. T. P. Stone on 15 Mar 2009
Format: Audio CD
An amazing set of Choral Music.Many happy hours spent listening to these very good performances
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While I like choral music, I am not sufficiently enthusiastic to enjoy all of the pieces on this CD. Perhaps those whose taste is more catholic will enjoy the CD
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I enjoyed very much listening to these CDs . For anyone who is interested in Choral music this is a must. A perfect gift
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter Francis Quinnell on 6 Dec 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is perhaps one of the finest twin CD packs encompassing the wide richness of English Choral Music past and present.

Most of these choral works will 'transport' the listener to a spiritual plane.

Father Peter (An Anglican Rector)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Glowing Reviews from Music Web 6 Jun 2009
By Mary Emerson-Smith - Published on
Gwyn Parry-Jones

The somewhat unhelpful title of these discs -`English Choral Music' could after all mean almost anything - gives little indication of the riches that lie within. What we have here is a valuable `rough guide' to English religious (mostly Anglican) choral music of the past century or so, ranging from Stanford through to Tavener. (I say `religious', though there are several exceptions, notably Britten's `Ode to St. Cecilia' and Howells' `Take him, earth, for cherishing'.)

Looked at another way, the set is a compilation from the fine series of CDs Christopher Robinson and the St. John's Choir have made for Naxos over the last few years. Robinson has now retired as their conductor, but the CDs act as a fine memorial to his time at St. John's.

As most of the CDs were devoted to individual composers, it is natural to find the numbers here by and large grouped in the same way. Thus we start with Stanford, the lovely Magnificat in G, the solo part sung by a quite exceptional treble, Oliver Lepage-Dean. He appears on quite a number of tracks on the first CD, and displays a maturity of musicianship together with a purity of tone which make him a pure joy to listen to.

Elgar is represented by two pieces; the very early Ave Verum has a fine, suave melody, to which the boys of St. John's respond with their richest tone. Robinson's voice training is very clearly in evidence here. The much later Give unto the Lord is a powerful, assertive anthem that was new to me - its sweeping choral writing is worthy of the composer of Gerontius.

Vaughan Williams' tranquil The Call, another solo item for Oliver Lepage-Dean, is followed by a sequence of music by Herbert Howells, concluding with his anthem in memory of JFK - Take him, earth, for cherishing. Though probably more suited to a mixed choir, this nevertheless works very well, for Robinson lets it flow, which is not only sympathetic to the boys' breathing limitations but compensates for the very sectional nature of the piece.

Howells' Paean for organ draws some fine playing from Iain Farrington, alerting me to the fact that organists don't appear to be credited at all, a strange state of affairs, of which I'm sure Christopher Robinson would not approve, being himself a very fine proponent. The instrument itself, though sometimes a little too far back in audio terms, performs admirably; whoever played it in, for example, the concluding item of CD1, Finzi's joyous God is gone up, coaxed some splendidly brassy noises out of it.

CD2 starts with Walton - the melting Set me as a seal performed with great sensitivity. The Coronation Te Deum, in an arrangement for smaller forces, is nothing like so satisfactory. The men of the choir, in particular, go `over the top' rather in their attempt to emulate the power of a larger ensemble. This is a fairly rare lapse, but does tend to characterise some of the more extrovert numbers.

Britten and Berkeley suit Robinson and this choir down to the ground, for they are completely at home in the subtle blend of sensuality and purity that the music demands. This version of Britten's great Hymn to St. Cecilia doesn't really compare with the best mixed choir versions in my view. Yet here, it seems in place, and the freshness of the boys' voices does provide a unique poignancy to phrases such as `O dear white children casual as birds'. Another highly accomplished treble, Benjamin Durrant, adds distinction to Berkeley's exquisite setting of Psalm 23 - in fact most of the solos are taken with great aplomb and confidence (though I personally found the strangled baritone in Stanford's Nunc dimittis distasteful both in tone and phrasing - perhaps it's just as well he remained uncredited!).

Music by Kenneth Leighton - a superb choral composer whose work is still scandalously underperformed - and Tavener completes the second disc. Song for Athene may be a somewhat obvious choice, but this choir does do it wonderfully well, and it makes a splendid closing item.

A treasure-trove, then, albeit an unusual one. There are some oddities in the booklet (though the notes themselves are fine); as well as the absences of some credits mentioned above, Berkeley's Crux Fidelis is op.43 no1, not no.2 as given. And why do we get Sir William Walton, Sir John Tavener etc., but just plain ol' Benjamin Britten and Lennox Berkeley? There may be a reason, but if so, we should be told!

These are minor carps - this is a beautiful and valuable issue, splendidly performed and recorded.

John Quinn

Over a four-year span Naxos made a splendid series of recordings of English church music with the choir of St. John's College, Cambridge under their distinguished Director of Music, Christopher Robinson. The last of these discs (I assume, unless there is something still to be issued) was devoted to Elgar and was set down immediately before Robinson retired in the summer of 2003. All the CDs were devoted to the music of a single composer.

The single exception is a miscellaneous collection entitled An Evening Hymn, which showcased the remarkable talent of treble, Oliver Lepage-Dean. (I read somewhere that his voice broke within days of the recording sessions. If so, his voice was captured just in the nick of time.) Three items from that recital are included here. Master Lepage-Dean sings the beautiful solo in the Stanford Magnificat exceptionally well. His voice is pure and focused and his tuning and diction are consistently spot-on in this item and elsewhere. I was less convinced by his performance of the Vaughan Williams song, not because his singing of it is less than good (it isn't) but because this is an essentially masculine song and I miss the extra range, depth and weight of tone that a baritone can bring. On the other hand the litany setting by Peter Hurford is an entirely apt choice. It's a simple, dignified piece and it is sung here with eloquence and confidence.

For the most part the music is grouped by composer and generally speaking the chosen pieces complement and contrast effectively. So, for example, the reflective, rather conventional setting of the Ave verum corpus by Elgar is an excellent foil to the much grander canvass that is Give unto the Lord. Both pieces are given first rate performances that conclusively show that Christopher Robinson left the choir in fine fettle when he retired.

No such compilation would be complete without music by Herbert Howells and some of his very finest compositions are included here. The St Paul's canticles are probably the best of the settings that he made, demonstrating his exceptional sensitivity to words and his unique harmonic palette. These canticles are very well done by Robinson and his choir, as is the masterly motet, Take him, earth, for cherishing.

The two Finzi items are just as successful. Welcome Sweet and Sacred Feast is a wholly characteristic, subtle offering while God is gone up is much more extrovert, as befits its subject matter. This latter piece is, for me, one of the highlights of the collection. Another is Walton's exquisite little anthem, Set me as a seal upon thine heart. Here we find yet another effective contrast for the main offering by Walton is his absolutely splendid Coronation Te Deum, given here in a most effective arrangement for organ accompaniment which manages to convey the full panoply of Walton's inspiration.

John Tavener is represented by a simple, directly devotional setting of the Lord's Prayer as well as by the ubiquitous The Lamb and Song for Athene. Far less familiar to the general public is the music of Kenneth Leighton. He is particularly well served here by a setting of the evening canticles dedicated to Bernard Rose. The Magnificat is distinguished by some vigorous choral writing and a demanding organ part. It culminates in an ebullient `Gloria'. By contrast, there's a gentle ecstasy at the opening of the Nunc Dimittis but the setting expands to an affirmative conclusion with a splendidly sonorous organ part.

Lennox Berkeley also receives proper attention in extracts from a CD released to mark his centenary. The deceptively straightforward (but, in reality, very demanding) The Lord is my Shepherd is a delight as is the Richard Crawshaw setting, Look up, Sweet Babe.

In truth, the standard of the music on this pair of discs is consistently high and so is the standard of the performances. Christopher Robinson's tenure at St. John's (1991-2003) was the culmination of a long career as one of this country's most distinguished choral conductors. His fastidious attention to tonal blend and diction and his dedication to the music he performed are self-evident in everything the choir sings here. It's a pity that the various organ scholars aren't credited for all play splendidly.

Presumably, this compilation marks the end of the Naxos - St. John's collaboration, at least in terms of the involvement of Christopher Robinson. This is a good time, then, to pay tribute to Andrew Walton, the producer of all the CDs (except the Lepage-Dean solo album which was produced and engineered by John Rutter.) Walton was ably supported by Eleanor Thompson who engineered all the recordings, except the Walton and Tavener collections, which were the work of Tony Faulkner. I've heard the whole series and can attest to the excellence of the productions. To my ears (though I know not everyone holds this view) the recorded sound throughout the series has been very good indeed. The booklet notes have been first class as well. So far as I've been able to check the notes accompanying this set are a usefully condensed version of the original notes. Full texts are supplied.

This collection is an ideal introduction to the full series of recordings from which they are taken. It is also a fine tribute to the excellent work of Christopher Robinson. We can only hope that Naxos will soon be recording this fine choir again under Robinson's distinguished successor, David Hill.

I recommend this excellent and enjoyable collection with great enthusiasm.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
sacred choral music 20 Mar 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Well done music but same was a little progressive for my tastes. Give me Byrd, Tallis, and Howell. Prefer their styles for ensemble or full choir
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
English Choral 1 Jan 2012
By suetrebleclef - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Item ordered in UK from US site. It arrived in good time, good condition, as described. It is at present being enjoyed by our daughter.
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