HERBERT HOWELLS ANTHEMS VOLUME 1
Choir of Lincoln Cathedral / Colin Walsh (organ) / Aric Prentice · Priory PRCD1119
These 18 pieces include the well-known such as A spotless rose, My eyes for beauty pine and Like as the hart and the lesser-known such as the early Latin-texted pieces that Howells wrote for Westminster Cathedral and R.R. Terry. The singing is rich and varied (choral and solo) and Colin Walsh’s playing of the Lincoln Willis organ is excellent. Aric Prentice moulds the music so that it always flows naturally. Counterpoint and harmonies, however complex, are clear throughout. This is the first volume in what is intended to be a complete series of Howells anthems: I look forward to its successors.
THE CHURCH MUSIC OF JOHN SHEPPARD
The Collected Vernacular Works – Volume II · Academia Musica Choir / Aryan O. Arji · Priory PRCD 1108
CMQ reviewed the first disc of Sheppard’s complete English-texted works (CMQ September 2014), finding it an enjoyable disc, even if Sheppard’s English church music is inferior to his Latin works. However, the first volume had more variety by including his complete keyboard works as well. Here, instead, a selection of English anthems and the Evening Service for Trebles appears alongside the comparatively dull Second Service. As before, the identity of individual singers is not revealed: they are choral scholars from Hereford Sixth Form College who sing extremely well, especially in the pieces that are, in effect, solo-voice trios.
VOICE AND VERSE
Choir of Wakefield Cathedral / Simon Earl (organ and piano) / Thomas Moore · Priory PRCD1143
This is an unashamedly popular CD featuring both the boys and girls choirs of the Cathedral singing a wide range of music, some accompanied by organ and some by piano. Music by Howard Goodall (The Lord is my shepherd), Maurice Bevan, Will Todd (At evening), and Jonathan Dove (Seek him that maketh the seven stars – which receives a fine performance) appears alongside Parry (I was glad), Rutter (All things bright and beautiful and The Lord bless you and keep you), Andrew Lloyd Webber (you have guessed – Pie Jesu), a Dale Adelmann spiritual arrangement, Elgar, Wilby, Sumsion and Vaughan Williams. Mozart’s Ave verum corpus makes an appearance and the disc concludes with Parry’s Blest pair of sirens. Interspersed are organ pieces by Whitlock (played by Thomas Moore) and Reger (Variations and Fugue on God save the King). Tempi are lively – this disc might be a good way of dispelling some people’s notion that church music is stuffy.
KEITH AND KRISTYN GETTY
FACING A TASK UNFINISHED
Keith and Kristyn Getty · Getty Music CD
The title track, ‘Facing a task unfinished’, is a 1931 hymn text by Frank Houghton, best known today for his Christmas hymn ‘Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour’ which is the final track on this CD. He wrote ‘Facing a task unfinished’ in support of the China Inland Mission and it is now normally sung to Aurelia. Words and tune have been retained, but to each verse the Gettys have added their own refrain: ‘We go to all the world / with kingdom hope unfurled; / no other name has power to save / but Jesus Christ the Lord.’ Very much intended for congregational singing, it aims to give fresh life to the 85-year-old mission hymn.
Of the 16 other tracks, ‘O children come’, featuring the South African choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, stands out for its freshness of approach and authenticity. ‘For the cause’ was co-written with Stuart Townend and is another call to mission. Other ‘visiting artists’ include Fernando Ortega in ‘My worth is not in what I own’ and John Patitucci in ‘We believe’ (based on the Apostle’s Creed) with the band excelling here and in ‘Lift high the name of Jesus’. The ‘Getty formula’ of traditionally-shaped hymns presented in an upbeat way continues to have popular appeal.
J.S. BACH ORGAN WORKS VOLUME 9
Supplementary volume / Margaret Phillips plays the Drapps/Flentrop organ of Sint-Nicolaaskerk, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium · Regent REGCD454
Margaret Phillips’s 16-CD recording of Bach’s complete organ works was one of the highlights of the last decade (the series was completed in 2009). This ‘supplementary volume’ adds pieces omitted from that acclaimed series. The 20 tracks include the Eight Short Preludes and Fugues now known not to be by Bach, and an alternative version of the BWV545 Prelude and Fugue in C which appears here as Prelude, Trio and Fugue in B flat BWV545b and spread over five tracks. Margaret Phillips’s performances are as musically authoritative as ever, complemented by the sweet, historically appropriate sound of the 1997 Drapps / 2008 Flentrop organ.
Simon Thomas Jacobs plays the Richards, Fowkes & Co. Opus 18 organ of St George, Hanover Square, London· Fugue State Records FSRCD009
For the first recording made on the new organ at St George’s, Simon Thomas Jacobs includes three world premiere recordings. Joel Martinson’s Out of the Depths – Three Essays on a Chorale is based on the Aus tiefer Not chorale in a neo-classical style that particularly suits the organ’s voicing, as in its different way does David Sanger’s Nocturne. Philip Moore’s four-movement Sinfonietta is a bigger piece texturally as well as in duration and makes a grand ending to the CD. Before that there are the 11 Partitas that form Böhm’s Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele and pieces by Peter Philips, Sweelinck, Gibbons and Weckmann. It is a fine first recording for the organist and the organ.