Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
Regent Records' 'A Year At. . .' series definitely deserves a critical thumbs up. Like all good ideas it is a simple and one wonders why it has not been done before. Take a top cathedral choir and follow it on a musical journey through the liturgical year as it sings music associated with the cathedral or particularly suited to it. We start, of course, in Advent with Vaughan Williams' "A Truth From Above" and conclude at the comparatively new feast of Christ The King with Jonathan Dove's "Seek Him That Maketh The Seven Stars". These two pieces showcase the strength of the compilation with the well-known Vaughan Williams and the, as yet, less well known Dove. There are other familiar faces including Faure's "Ave Maria" (for Annunciation), Buckner's "Christus Factus Est" (Passiontide) and Finzi's "God Is Gone Up" (for Ascension - of course). All are well sung and even if you have other versions you will enjoy hearing them sung afresh. There are also some first recordings to tempt the more jaded amongst us: the splendid "Noe, Noe" by David Bednall (born 1979), one of three Christmas songs, "Blessed Be The Holy Trinity" by David Cheetham (born 1943) for Trinity Sunday, and two excellent arrangements of personal favourites by Philip Stopford (born 1977): the lovely traditional Cornish "Sans Day Carol" and Hopkins' "We, Three Kings". There is nothing not to like about this release. The choir, a traditional all male one, sings well, Luke Bond provides appropriate accompaniment on the cathedral organ, audio quality is the usual high standard guaranteed by producer Gary Cole, and the direction by Christopher Gray is excellent. My one slight quibble is that other than the "Sans Day Carol" there is nothing discernibly Cornish although I suspect that Cornish language singing is more the province of the non-conformists in the Duchy but, this apart, this is another excellent addition to what is becoming my favourite on-going series.
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