The Choir Of Exeter Cathedral, Timothy Noon - A Year At Exeter

Published Thursday 10th January 2019
The Choir Of Exeter Cathedral, Timothy Noon - A Year At Exeter
The Choir Of Exeter Cathedral, Timothy Noon - A Year At Exeter

STYLE: Choral
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Regent REGCD524

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

Before I say anything else I should state an interest in this release having spent three happy years studying at Exeter and coming to appreciate the cathedral for its central position in both the worship and the cultural life of the city. Thus I wanted to like this CD and am happy to report that it was very easy to enjoy. The programme follows the usual format of the Regent Records 'A Year At' series with a run through the liturgical calendar with works that form part of the choir's repertoire and also reflect historic links between cathedral and composers. Unusually we start before Advent with "A Hymn For St Cecilia", the patron saint of music whose feast day is 22nd November. Personally I have no strong feelings about "patron saints" seeing them as cultural icons rather than spiritual ones but if others want to write music to commemorate them I do not mind listening to it. The version we hear here is a setting by Herbert Howells of words by Ursula Vaughan Williams. Other settings are available but this one is well sung and worth hearing. A good opening. Advent is marked by Robert Parsons' "Ave Maria" and followed by an interesting selection for Christmas in the first recording of Philip Lawson's "Lullay My Liking", a modern interpretation of a medieval carol that may become a favourite performance piece for this and other choirs. Easter is celebrated with "Blessed Be The God And Father" by Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876) who was appointed organist at Exeter Cathedral in 1835 and followed by the enjoyable "My Beloved Spake" by Patrick Hadley (1899-1973). I am skipping a lot in this review although I was more than happy to hear the pieces I am not mentioning but the closing quartet of songs are all worth highlighting. Ascension is marked by another first recording, this time by Exeter's Assistant Organist Timothy Parsons' "The Lord Is King", Trinity is John Stainer's neglected "I Saw The Lord", the celebration of the cathedral's patron saint, Peter, is the dramatic mini-cantata "Jesus Walking On The Waves" by Anthony Piccolo (born 1953) and the disc concludes with the feast of Christ the King, celebrated on the last Sunday of the church year and here marked with the rousing "Seek Him That Maketh The Seven Stars" by Jonathan Dove (born 1959), which is a tour de force for both choir and organ and well worth waiting for. Those with an affinity for Exeter Cathedral will treasure this collection and listeners who enjoy choral music will find much that is well worth hearing. The recording by Gary Cole captures the cathedral's atmosphere very well and the booklet notes by John Lees are interesting and informative. Yes, I may be biased but I think this is an excellent release.

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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