Various - Musique & Musiciens a Westminster

Published Thursday 5th January 2017
Various - Musique & Musiciens a Westminster
Various - Musique & Musiciens a Westminster

STYLE: Choral
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Harmonia Mundi HMX2908556.53

This product is currently not available from Cross Rhythms Direct

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

This is a most attractive two-CD set that will fly off the shelves at the gift shop at Westminster Abbey so long as someone tells the paying customers to ignore the French title on the front cover and explains that there are two 22-page illustrated booklets inside, one of which is written in English by Graham Ross. However, we should also be told that none of the recordings were made in Westminster Abbey or by any of the choirs or organists who have graced it over the years. What we get are an interesting selection of works from composers associated with the Abbey from Robert Parsons (c. 1530-1570) to Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) and indeed the booklet even features a plan of the Abbey showing the location of the memorials of several of them. The selection has been made with care so that we start with a setting of the Lenten Compline hymn "Christie qui Lux es et Dies (IV)" by Robert White that borrows from Plainchant that would have been sung by monks at the time of the Abbey's foundation at the end of the 10th century. From the 20eth century we hear Benjamin Britten looking back in his setting of eight medieval lyrics, "Sacred And Profane" and also his popular realisation of Henry Purcell's "An Evening Hymn", here sung by Mark Padmore. The other artists are also from the extensive Harmonia Mundi stable and include Stile Antico with Fretwork, two incarnations of the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge - one under Nicholas McGegan and the other under the more recent director, Graham Ross. We also have Philippe Herreweghe's Collegium Vocale Gent, Richard Eggar's Academy of Ancient Music and others of similar calibre. In all we get more than two hours of excellent music and an interesting CD booklet at a mid-range price. One picky point: the album is sub-titled "De Tallis a Britten" but Thomas Tallis is not included - and neither are plenty of other great British composers - but rather than quibbling about who has been left off we should rejoice in the quality of those included in a most enjoyable collection.

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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