Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
This is the second in the new series from Regent charting a musical journey through the church's year at well-loved cathedrals and, like volume one from York Minster, we enjoyed it very much. This is by no means the first CD from Winchester that we have heard although it may well be the best and, as ever with Gary Cole producing, the sound quality is immaculate. As with the York release we start at Advent and follow the liturgical calendar until we reach Trinity Sunday although the repertoire is, of course, different, featuring composers with a Winchester connexion or songs that are particularly appropriate for the choir (which may go quite some way in making this such a satisfying collection). Two clarifications, though. We said "choir" but in fact we have different combinations of the Boy Choristers and Girl Choristers singing with the Men - often a cappella - with the three parts coming together just once, with the concluding "Winchester Te Deum" in John Rutter's original version. This makes a splendid finale but technically comes out of sequence as it is for the Cathedral's patron saint, Swithun, whose Day falls on 15th July. However it is such an apt conclusion both musically and because of who he is that we will say no more, other than to point out that it is so easy to change the running order on a CD that you can fit it in wherever you like. The oldest composition is "Libera Nos, Salva Nos" by John Shepherd (c1515-c 1559) for Trinity and our journey through time as well as through the calendar takes us to the 20th century via William Byrd, Henry Purcell, Anton Bruckner, Charles Villiers Stanford, Edward Elgar, and Charles Wood. In addition to John Rutter we have a selection of contemporary composers from Donald Sweeney (born 1935) to Jonathan Dove (born 1959) by way of Patrick Gowers (born 1936) and John Tavener (born 1944). Of particular note is Gowers' "Vici Galilaei" for Ascension featuring Richard McVeigh on synthesiser, as written - rather than the more usual second organ. All in all, this is a very satisfying collection sung very well indeed.
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