Graham Ross concludes his exploration of music for the liturgical calendar with a programme focusing on the Holy Trinity, as reflected in music of the Russian and British traditions. From the works of the New Russian Choral School led by Tchaikovsky to more modern pieces such as those of Britten, with excursions into the Renaissance and contemporary creation, Graham Ross skilfully brings out the multiple correspondences between the choral traditions that have become established over the centuries around the mystery of the Trinity.
Of all the nearly forgotten music by Mendelssohn, the most nearly completely forgotten is his music for chorus. Only his songs come close to being as almost entirely ignored, but because a few of them have earned a place in the recital hall, even they have a more prominent place in the repertoire. This 10-disc Brilliant set of Mendelssohn's complete choral works featuring the Chamber Choir of Europe under Nicol Matt addresses this problem even though it may not solve it. The performances are uniformly excellent. The Choir has a smooth tone and superb diction and Matt elicits from them polished balanced and ardent interpretations.
Westminster Abbey has been the focus of British royal occasions for centuries, and the early seventeenth century saw the most dazzling musicians of the age writing music for the Court in all its various incarnations. This fascinating disc presents a selection of works from the reign of King James I. The most celebrated name on this disc is that of Orlando Gibbons, and some of his most masterly works are presented on this CD.
Both Duruflé and Fauré wrote their Requiems for choir and organ first. The orchestrations were afterthoughts bending to the excesses of public appeal and publishers' demands, at least that's what I was taught in college. Both works can be wonderful with orchestra and on this CD, the consistently excellent St. Martin in the Fields gives a beautiful interpretation of the Fauré Requem with orchestra.
Church musicians, especially of the Anglican/Episcopal persuasion, should be happy that there's at least one person out there writing first-rate, functional, and very accessible (in the best sense) anthems and service music–music that dedicated, competent choirs and organists can perform to a high standard. Some listeners may recognize Grayston Ives (nom de plume of Bill Ives) for his years (in the 1980s) with the King's Singers where he both sang and contributed as an arranger.
Handel's Coronation Anthems were written in 1727 for George II and Queen Caroline, and have been performed at every British coronation since that occasion. Zadok the Priest will be familiar from its use in the film The Madness of King George. Handel's arpeggiated suspensions in the strings build excitement from the outset, but the entrance of the choir and full orchestra is shattering beyond expectations.