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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 December 2013
The CD features a little-known version of Hubert Parry's (1848-1918) "I was glad," heard at the Coronation of King George V in 1911, and "Jerusalem," alongside other coronation music by Parry and his contemporary Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924). Parry and Stanford were the leading figures in British music for almost half a century as composers, conductors, and teachers; and their music has become standard repertoire for choirs worldwide. Their choral music is normally performed only with organ, but the works heard on this CD are orchestral versions, performed here on period instruments. The CD has earned countless positive reviews, many of which comment on the strong impression made by the period brass instruments. Undoubtedly, this CD will be a classic in the years to come. Carolyn Sampson's joyous singing is perfect for Stanford's setting of the Magnificat in G; and Elgar's orchestration of "Jerusalem" alone is worth the price of the CD, which is a must-have for anyone interested in good music. Robert King is legendary for his performances of Monteverdi, Purcell, Handel, and other Baroque masters. King's latest excursion into Romantic repertoire sets up an exciting parallel between him and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Hopefully, more will follow.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 4 February 2013
This is a marvellous CD, hugely enjoyable to listen to and a very good advertisement for the two giants of British music in the generation before Elgar and Vaughan Williams.

Choral evensong was once - I forget where - compared to county cricket: it's a tradition which gamely continues the length and breadth of England, always maintaining a pretty decent standard, with occasional flashes of excellence, and it's completely ignored by all but a few diehard fans. It's a pity, really, and very little, if any, of the choral evensong repertoire has ever made it out of church and onto the concert platform. I can see why: many of the anthems are just too short to bother with as concert pieces, and often the musical material is just too thin, all ploddy organ accompaniments and heavy homophonic writing. Yet this CD, by the King's Consort, demonstrates how the music of two of the stalwarts of the English cathedral repertoire really does deserve a much wider audience. It's a generous hour and a bit of thrillingly passionate singing, accompanied not by a wheezy old windbox, but a lush orchestra replete with harp, tympani and the rest. It's great.

In terms of time the disc is dominated by Stanford's four big settings of the canticles for evensong, along with three works by Parry (yes, 'I was glad' is there, for you fans of royal weddings). Stanford may have been forgotten by pretty much everyone except church musicians, but these settings all demonstrate his considerable talent as an orchestrator, from the utterly charming Magnificat in G (with the brilliant, soaringly wonderful Carolyn Sampson as soprano soloist) to the Brahmsian splendour of the Nunc Dimittis in A. This isn't to say he was a genius, but he was a hugely talented composer and musician, and his music rewards repeated listening.

The project continues the King's Consort's commitment to historically informed performance, so it is interesting to hear the orchestra perform on older instruments (the liner notes document these in exhaustive detail), but to my mind this shouldn't distract you from what makes this disc tick, which is the sheet enjoyment and exuberance of the music-making. The King's Consort are in fine voice, all clearly enjoying letting rip on some real old chestnuts (most of them could probably perform this repertoire off by heart), and it's a pleasure to hear voices of the quality of Sampson and Wilson-Johnson on this sort of repertoire.

This isn't to say that this is a definitive recording of the music: I will just as happily listen to the Westminster Abbey recording of the B flat service on Durufle; Radcliffe; Ley; Stanford; Byrd: The Feast of Saint Peter The Apostle At Westminster Abbey, and the Stanford: Sacred Choral Music (Winchester Cathedral Choir; David Hill) (Hyperion: CDS44311/3) is a great disc, too. In the end, this throws new light on some well-trodden paths, and it does it just grandly. Well done, the King's Consort.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2013
I heard this cd reviewed on Radio 3, heard the samples on amazon, and knew I had to buy it! To say that I am not disappointed is an understatement! I've played it many times already and it never fails to fascinate and thrill. The Stanford orchestrations are beautiful and add a new, richer dimension to my knowledge of these settings. As for the performances, they are stunningly beautiful, they feel right, they are not over the top nor exaggerated, but, put simply, they are wonderfully crafted, and the sound is one that I want to listen to over and over again. The solo singing is completely convincing, especially the soprano soloist in the Stanford in G Magnificat. I didn't hesitate when I ordered it, and I haven't regretted buying it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 July 2013
Nothing beats the trumpets at the start of I was Glad. Fantastic CD with excellent singing. Slightly disappointed with the wobbly soprano singing the solo in Stanford in G Magnificat as a child will always sing this much better however that taken away it really is superbly sung and played. Buy it!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2013
I used to sing a lot of these pieces as a young chorister, and I didn't want to listen to some awful all-male choir murdering the Magnificat. I was won over when I listened to the samples, and I'm not disappointed by the CD. Beautiful, uplifting singing conducted at just the right pace for a sleepy evensong or triumphal arrival of the bride.
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on 12 May 2015
Stanford's canticles are never performed at concerts, so one hears them only at choral evensongs.
I was at Merton College in Oxford last Sunday when their superb mixed-voice choir sang Stanford in A. Despite the brilliance of their new Dobson organ, I realised that I found the pleasure enhanced by having previously listened to the orchestral version.
By coincidence, the choir of The Queen's College (also mixed-voice and superb) had performed Stanford in A live on Radio 3 a few days earlier.
This is a MUST-HAVE album.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2014
Excellent performances of well known and not so well known music helped by clear recording
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2013
Leonard Bernstein one stated that English music was, 'too much organ voluntary in Lincoln Cathedral, too much Coronation in Westminster Abbey, too much lark ascending, too much clodhopping on the ****ing village green'. In many ways he was right, but he was also jeering at what England does best, as evinced by the King's Consort's latest disc. Featuring coronation classics by Parry and Stanford's settings of the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in all their orchestral glory, this recording proves we should cherish rather than mock our musical heritage.

As with King's earlier recordings, I was Glad is performed 'on authentic instruments', bringing balmy Edwardian instrumental tones to customarily strident anthems and canticles. It's particularly in the fanfaric moments that the warmth of these 'authentic' instruments tells, where the sound is fat rather than shrill. One thing that feels a little ersatz in the lineup is the reproduction of the organ of Hereford Cathedral. Digitally importing the 'Father' Willis pipe by pipe, the recording was actually made in St Jude's on the Hill. The acoustic is therefore not authentic and the organ takes more of a back seat than it would have done in the more generous acoustic at Hereford.

The other 'period' which may rankle is the pronunciation, rendering Parry's tub-thumping 'I was Glad' as a Joyce Grenfell-esque 'I was Gled'. Yet the Choir of the King's Consort, full of familiar consort and session names, produces a suitably hefty (if sometimes wayward) sound. Flagrant vibrato sometimes dulls the tone at the top end and the diction in Jerusalem feels pedantic, but it is a wonderfully rich blend across the disc. They are joined by Carolyn Sampson and David Wilson-Johnson, providing their own vocal luster to the solos.

And lustrous is how the disc feels as a whole. The opening of Stanford's C major setting of the Magnificat is delivered with a Bruckner-like surge, while portamenti lend a swoony quality to Parry's Blest pair of Sirens (however rushed by King). Particularly inspired is the the full orchestral version of Stanford's harp-inspired G major Magnificat (with a seraphic Sampson). It is the real jewel in this disc's crown.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 14 February 2013
I have just finished listening to this quite extraordinary new CD by Robert King and the King's Consort, and in my opinion this is the most convincing thing he has yet done. Every aspect of the production is simply superb: the performances themselves are full-blooded and yet finely nuanced; the recording is spacious and detailed, and yet powerful and thrilling in the (many) climaxes; the organ is gorgeously captured - especially the low end of the instrument - giving the overall sound impressive weight and richness; the singing and playing are basically flawless. Combine this with exceptional notes by Jeremy Dibble, complete documentation on every instrument used in the (period) orchestra, and exemplary presentation overall from this (seemingly new) label "Vivat", and this is a winner. Of course this might not mean all that much if the music itself were not worthwhile, but it seems the true quality of these two great composers is finally now beginning to be recognised. This is wonderful, inspired music, unashamed of its late Victorian roots. Its as thrilling today as I am sure it was for audiences and congregation members around the turn of the 20th century. This recording sheds new and vibrant light on an important period in English Church Music, and we are all in the debt of the many dedicated musicians who have made this project so marvelous. Bravo!
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on 12 February 2014
Love it! Good for a sing-along. Makes interesting listening with orchestral backing and female singers rather than organ and all male voices.
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