The Choir Of Worcester College, Oxford - Nowell Sing We

Published Tuesday 23rd September 2014
The Choir Of Worcester College, Oxford - Nowell Sing We
The Choir Of Worcester College, Oxford - Nowell Sing We

STYLE: Choral
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 153360-28186
LABEL: Resonus RES10138
FORMAT: Digital Only Album

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

In October 2012 Cross Rhythms posted a review of Volume One of the Choir of Worcester College's collection of contemporary carols, 'This Christmas Night'. We enjoyed it and later noted that a national newspaper had made it their classical CD of the week (although as a digital release it is not really a CD). For 2014 we have Volume Two which very much follows the formula of the earlier release. All the composers were active in the second half of the 20th century and some have continued on into the new millennium. Here we have nine world premiere recordings and the vocal programme is interspersed with seven of Nico Muhly's "O Antiphon Preludes" played by Stephen Farr. The singing is excellent although I suspect that, as a college choir, the membership has changed in the two years between recordings. The old guard of composers is represented by names such as Herbert Howells (1892-1983) with "O Mortal Man" and Edmund Rubbra (1901-1986) with "The Virgin's Cradle Hymn". The premiere recordings are of works by Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989): "Sweet Was The Song"; Colin Matthews (born 1946): "The Angel's Carol"; Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (born 1935): "Kings And Shepherds"; Hafliði Hallgrímsson (born 1941): "Christ Was Born On Christmas Day"; Francis Pott (born 1957): "Lute-Book Lullaby"; Grayston Ives (born 1948): "This Is The Record Of John"; Richard Rodney Bennett (1936-2012): "Nowell, Nowell, Tidings True"; and Jamie W Hall's "As I Lay Upon A Night" which, to my ears, may be the one that makes it into the permanent repertoire. As with 'This Christmas Night' this is not music that will be sung by congregations or attempted by village choirs but it is good to know that choral music of this standard continues to be written and that accomplished choirs continue to record it. Yes, it is a specialist release but it is also rather special and those who appreciate contemporary choral music will treasure it.

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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