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John Ireland, Church Music
on 19 December 2012
While Ireland's output can be said to have been served fairly well on disc, especially his piano music and songs, his music for the church seems to have failed to ignite the imagine of record producers, although faced with this disc you can't really understand why, as this disc firmly places his music at the forefront of the `great Anglican tradition'!
Yes, his music for the church is available on other discs, but I can't think of another single disc purely devoted to his music, this makes this disc very welcome indeed, especially as it comes at the end of his anniversary year! From the very opening of the Te Deum in F you get the feeling that this is going to be a special disc, and you are not disappointed. The perennial favourites such as My song is love unknown, Greater love hath no man and The Holy Boy are here, but it is the more rarely recorded music, such as the two settings of the Evening Service (in C and F) and the Communion Service in C where Ireland really shows himself to be a true successor to the likes of Stanford and a master of the tradition of English church music.
This disc would have been most welcome if sung by a second rate choir, as it is, we are afforded Lincoln Cathedral Choir on top form, I do have quite a few of these works on other discs, but none of them compare to this recording. The choir is a modern choir in that it is mixed, with both boys and girls singing alongside the men, and while I am usually a traditionalist when it comes to this sort of music, this recording has gone a long way to win me over to the concept of mixed choirs. The tone of the choir is beautifully rounded and well balanced, one could not wish for better!
This is beautiful disc, and one which I have no hesitation in recommending, indeed I would go as far as to say that it is the finest choral disc that I have heard this year, a disc which I will be enjoying for many a year!