on 7 February 2013
It was obviously special being royalty. I mean, having someone compose music not just to make you feel good, but also to tell everyone else how good, or mighty, or unique you were. That said this is great music.
on 27 November 2014
This budget collection offers great value in terms of playing time and the highest quality in terms of performance and sound, as one would expect from EMI. It’s clearly been marketed as part of the Jubilee celebrations but putting that to one side it can be warmly welcomed from a purely musical standpoint. Stephen Cleobury’s collection of Handel’s Coronation Anthems (Academy of Ancient Music and Choir of King’s College Cambridge) is one of the best currently available with great articulation and verve. The sparkling recording is slightly recessed but the actual choral tone is full and splendid. Zadok the Priest really zips along and the first entrance of the chorus produces a moment of true frisson. Cleobury also directs an outstanding performance of Eternal Source of Light Divine in which counter tenor Robin Blaze really shines. The sound is bright, clear and beautifully balanced. The third Handel work in the set is the Music for the Royal Fireworks with Sir Roger Norrington directing the London Classical Players. The playing is of the highest order and Norrington ensures that everything is tight and clear with plenty of detail emerging from the orchestra. So that’s one CD’s worth of top recommendations so far.
The 1977 recordings conducted by Sir Philip Ledger of Elgar’s Coronation Ode and I Was Glad by Parry are presented in spectacular sound with more than ample reverberation from its Abbey setting. This kind of sound doesn’t always work but the results achieved here are magnificent and it’s impossible not to get carried away in such a massive, thrilling aural experience. Both performances are inspired and moving,
Turning now to Purcell, Cleobury directs a moving account of the Funeral Music for Queen Mary. The four trumpet soloists play wonderfully well and capture the serious, melancholy atmosphere perfectly. I hadn’t come across Davis Munrow’s 1976 recording of Come ye sons of Art away before but it offers the kind of impeccable musicianship generally associated with his work with the Early Music Consort of London. The contributions from counter tenors James Bowman and Charles Brett are excellent with very good intonation (not always to be taken for granted in music such as this!)
Glorious Majesty would be fine value as a 2 CD set containing all the works mentioned thus far. On that basis the 3rd CD can be regarded as something of a bonus, containing shorter orchestral and choral pieces, and very good it is too. EMI has a superb back catalogue of Walton and Elgar conducted by Boult and Groves and the inclusion of some of their work is most welcome. O hearken Thou conducted by Richard Hickox is one of the highlights of the set, with the London Symphony Chorus excelling themselves especially in the piano passages. This is wonderful singing. It’s also good to have some of Uri Segal’s work back in circulation and he rounds things off nicely with the lively, entertaining Gloriana Suite by Britten recorded with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in 1982.
For the more serious collector, this is a snip at around £10 even if it could mean duplicating some of the items on offer. I enjoyed the whole thing enormously.