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on 18 October 2011
Many church music enthusiasts will welcome this release from EMI, especially those who have the original HMV LP records as I do. It is always good to have LPs from your collection on CD for ease of playing and without all the noisy crackles (unless you like having these !). These discs present a fascinating survey of church music from the 12th to the 20th centuries. In addition to this there are bonus tracks from other HMV records recorded in the 1960s. The singing is delightful to hear - often quite quaint and it is interesting to compare the singing with what is heard on today's recordings. Some of the accompaniments on the organ are quite different to those used today and I enjoyed the bolder accompaniment in 'Salvator Mundi' by John Blow on Disc 3; well done to Simon Preston for his bold interpretation of this masterpiece (one of my favourite anthems). I wish today's organists would shake off their timidity on the organ and pull out a few more stops ! These old records are classics and I wish that 'ARGO' would transfer more of their old records (eg. the many recorded by St John's College, Cambridge) to CD so that more people who have not heard these old records can hear this wonderful music on CD.

Well done, EMI for bringing out this boxed set of discs, which truly is a 'TREASURY'. Thank you to 'Amazon' for the truly bargain price at which we can purchase a gem in the field of church music.
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on 18 February 2012
First a warning. If you are looking for state of the art recordings and performances, this is not the set for you. You would be better to buy some of the recent recordings of todays great choirs, easily found on labels such as Hyperion and Regent etc. Nevertheless, as someone who grew up in the 60's and acquired my love of church music at this time, I found these recordings revelatory! There were some real surprises. St.Pauls were just as I remembered them before Barry Rose( followed admirably by John Scott)turned them into a wonderful choir. I used to attend evensong(in the 60's) and hear solid, dependable performances of standard repertoire. This is what we get here,with the recordings showing their age. Westminster Abbey comes off much better( much to my surprise). Check out Simon Preston letting rip in "Salvator Mundi" No-one would dare to do that these days.
I know the Guildford recording well, having sung in the choir in the late 60,s. It clearly shows a fantastic choir in the making, not quite there yet but well on the way. "Thou Knowest Lord" is beautifully sung.However, the singing which really made me sit up came from Chichester. What a wonderful choir! The boys sing with that lovely pure English tone which is now unfashionable and the musicality and ensemble of the choir is near perfect.At the time these recordings were made,Kings and Johns at Cambridge were busy setting new standards of performance and these discs show clearly who was listening. Obviously John Birch and Barry Rose!
There are other delights in this set.The sadly missed boys from All Saints, Margaret St. sing beautifully, while the choir from Hampstead Parish Church show where Barry Rose got his inspiration. Most remarkable of all, the recordings from the Temple Church hark back to an older generation. Is it my imagination, but do they sound a little like present day New College Oxford !
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I have just spent a thoroughly enjoyable three nights listening to this box of five CDs of English Church music.

When I was growing up, I remember that most of the finest and best publicised recordings of church music tended to come from the collegiate chapel choirs of Cambridge and Oxford universities. Most of the cathedral choirs did not seem to have quite the same exposure and profile.

This box of CDs reissues [at a very reasonable price] a set of five LPs released in 1965 made to accompany of book of church anthems by a publishing house called Batsford Press called 'The Treasury of English Church Music'. The cover recreates the same typography of the original publication. The five volumes covered a specific period and used a different choir. They were as follows:

Volume 1 1100 to 1545 The Ambrosian Singers conducted by Denis Stevens
Volume 2 1545 to 1650 Westminster Abbey Choir conducted by Douglas Guest
Volume 3 1650 to 1760 Guildford Cathedral Choir conducted by Barry Rose
Volume 4 1760 to 1900 St Pauls Cathedral Choir conducted by John Dykes Bower
Voume 5 1900 to 1965 Chichester Cathedral Choir conducted by John Birch

The CDs contain a large number of bonus tracks to create 5 very well filled CDs. There are contributions by the choirs of Wells and Worcester Cathedrals and the Temple Church and Hampstead Parish Church and the New English Singers as well as a fascinating and rather moving speech by Herbert Howells at the beginning.

I have found the whole recording a fascinating experience. The singers of 1965 have little to fear from their Oxbridge rivals or their younger counterparts. The singing is nearly always excellent and I have enjoyed nearly every track. It is hard to know where to begin commenting on individual aspects.

The Ambrosian Singers were {are} a professional chorus who mainly worked on recordings of operas. They were chosen to do the medieval part because this music was not really in the day to day repertoire of church and cathedral choirs. They make a wonderfully beefy sound which many might find a little inauthentic; I don't really care if it is - I loved it.

I really enjoyed the performances of Westminster Abbey's choir. It became much more high profile in the 1980s when Simon Preston became director of music but it is clear that it was an already fine choir under Douglas Guest. I think I enjoyed their performances the most.

Guildford Cathedral was also a very special choir having been created from scratch by Barry Rose in 1961 a mere four years before this recording was made. I love the repertoire that they perform especially the John Travers 'Ascribe unto the Lord and the Purcell pieces.

The recording by St Pauls is very solid and workmanlike and it shows how things have changed in church music performance. My days as a choir boy took place about 10 years after this recording was made and much of the music on this recording {lots of sentimental Victoriana] was very key to church music making. I would not say it is now to anywhere near the same extent. I felt quite nostalgic listening to this partiular volume.

The Chichester Cathedral recording was the first I listened to and I enjoyed it as much as the other ones.

There is so much to comment on in this collection but the only thing I would like to add is that it was very special listening to the Temple Church recordings conducted by George Thalben Ball. A friend of mine sang in the choir as a boy and later as an adult and said that he considered Thalban Ball to be the most musical person he had ever encountered. The style seems more old fashioned than all the other choirs and yet it has an incredible vibrancy about it.

Highly recommended.
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on 11 March 2014
This took a very long time to re-appear, much of it having originated on LP vinyls in the 1960s. As a collection it contains not only some interesting and beautiful choral works, but also serves as a record of just how certain leading cathedral choirs sounded at the time the recordings were made. For a re-issue, much of the recording is good and some is very good. I have a particular interest in the career of Barry Rose, and the recordings of Guildford Cathedral Choir in what was then still the choir's comparatively early days are testimony to what Dr Rose managed to achieve in so short a time with the resources at his disposal. It is a series that can be dipped into, and that is the way I tend to use it: in short sessions, usually no more than two anthems at a time, but with absolutely no distractions so that the nuances of particular performances can be fully appreciated.
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on 19 March 2013
A wonderful collection of English Church Music spanning the ages
A real must for anyone who enjoys this genre
I used to own some discs on LP so this is a replacement for me
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on 2 February 2012
Your packaging was so good that it was a challenge to open, but certainly kept both volumes in impeccable condition!
Delivery was timely, and the shipping charge seems very modest, considering it had to cross the Atlantic.
Received with many thanks.
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on 22 February 2015
A definitive archive product. A real portrait of times, places and styles.
Now a very important asset, especially when accompanied by the parallel series of books.
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on 29 September 2012
I have had the set of books issued some years ago since they came out. It is good to have the back up CD.
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