Graham Stansfield, Wessex Consort, Andrew King - A Choir For All Seasons

Published Thursday 1st September 2016
Graham Stansfield, Wessex Consort, Andrew King - A Choir For All Seasons
Graham Stansfield, Wessex Consort, Andrew King - A Choir For All Seasons

STYLE: Choral
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 162251-24109
LABEL: Aeterna

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

This well presented CD features a cappella choral music written by Graham Stansfield who has enjoyed a varied and successful career in music across the genres. The project in view came about when he turned his hand to writing choral anthems and needed a choir to sing them. The Wessex Consort under conductor Andrew King rose to the challenge to such an extent that the composer kept writing for them, again crossing the genre barriers. We start in the cathedral with three anthems: "Except The Lord Build This House", "I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes" and a setting of Psalm 19. All are well sung and could and should be within the capabilities of many parish choirs. Then we head off to the composer's home county with five "Dorset Portraits" and listeners who have not had the pleasure of visiting that lovely corner of England will have to take it from me that the vocal pictures painted do it full justice. I particularly tip my hat to the song about William Barnes, the remarkable scholar-poet and friend of Thomas Hardy. Then we return to the cathedral for Psalm 23 and "Deliver Me". In all honesty this is not the greatest setting of that beloved Psalm but it is still well worth hearing. And now, as they say, for something completely different with a triptych of holiday songs. Like the Dorset set these are not specifically religious but they are tuneful and joyful and will appeal to secular choirs looking for something new. So we are off to Spain for "La Convivencia", make a detour to the Alps on "The Little Mountain Train" and end up in Italy with "Monteverdi In The Sun" and if these do not leave you with a smile on your face you need a holiday. Now we return to the cathedral one more time with the men singing a pleasing "Pater Noster" followed by a delightful "They That Trusteth In The Lord" - and if you cannot tell that I am enjoying this disc I have not written the review I intended. And finally we are "Just Chillin'" with some happy music for the composer to sing along to in his car. We get a gospel number with "Sing Hallelujah", a '20s/'30s dance number with "Love In The Dancing '20s" and a tour de force a cappella "clubbing anthem" entitled "Gastronomic" that has to be heard to be believed. If you have any interest whatsoever in contemporary vocal music and are not afraid to try something unusual this is well worth seeking out.

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