Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, Graham Ross - Remembrance

Published Thursday 13th October 2016
Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, Graham Ross - Remembrance
Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, Graham Ross  - Remembrance

STYLE: Choral
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Harmonia Mundi HMU907654

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

As the leaves start to fall every autumn the year's Christmas releases start to arrive and every year one or two collections aimed at Remembrance Day come too. Actually, a vicar of my acquaintance tells me he sees more visitors on Remembrance Sunday than Easter, which makes it important that he gets the service right. This collection, from the ever reliable Graham Ross and his Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, is an excellent resource for all other choir directors as well as being well worth hearing by any who enjoy traditional choral singing. The centrepiece is Maurice Durufle's "Requiem (Opus 9)" which fills just over half of the 73-minutes of the disc. I cannot say that this is my favourite Requiem but it is sung very well by the choir and soloists Jennifer Johnston (mezzo-soprano) and Neil Davies (bass). The other nine tracks are, to my ears at least, much more interesting. We open with a brief "Call To Remembrance" by (or at least attributed to) Richard Farrant and there are other Tudors represented with both Thomases, Tompkins and Weelkes, giving us their settings of "When David Heard" and if you do not remember what he heard, it was the news of the death of his son Absalom. Another Old Testament text is "How Are The Mighty Fallen" by Robert Ramsey which is David's response to the news that King Saul and Prince Jonathan had fallen to the Philistines. Personal favourites are "Kontakion Of The Dead" which is a Kiev melody and, also following Orthodox style, John Tavener's rightly famous "Song For Athene". However the standout track is a debut recording of Ross's arrangement of that old favourite "Abide With Me". Ross wisely keeps the tune "Eventide" but his variations on the theme breathe new life into what can sometimes seem hard going and the choir, singing a cappella, bring out every nuance of Henry Francis Lyte's words. Once this arrangement becomes better known I predict it becoming the default setting at many funerals and other acts of remembrance although probably not at F.A. Cup Finals. So, to sum up, 'Remembrance' is a varied selection of choral music appropriate for many acts of remembrance, whether public or private, and sung beautifully throughout.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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