The Choir of Westminster Abbey sing works by Bax, Finzi & Ireland

A
a
-
Album title:
Bax, Finzi, Ireland
Composer(s):
Bax, Finzi, Ireland
Works:
Bax: This wordless joie, I Sing of a Maiden; Finzi: Lo, the full, final sacrifice; Ireland:Te Deum, Greater Love
Performer:
The Choir of Westminster Abbey/James O'Donnell; Daniel Cook (organ)
Label:
Hyperion
Catalogue Number:
CDA 68167
Performance:
starstarstarstarnostar
Recording:
starstarstarstarnostar
4
Reviewer:
BBC Music Magazine
The Choir of Westminster Abbey sing works by Bax, Finzi & Ireland

Finzi’s Lo, the full, final sacrifice is a work that can easily sprawl and seem shapeless, but not in this excellent new recording by James O’Donnell and his Westminster Abbey forces. It’s a performance where all the individual components in this 15-minute-long anthem seem justly weighed and articulated, from the introspective organ prelude (sensitively shaped by Daniel Cook), through the rising elation signalled at ‘Rise, Royal Sion!’ to the gentle sensuality of the closing eight-part ‘Amen’. O’Donnell knits the various episodes together with unobtrusive surety, and catches the work’s devotional atmosphere compellingly.

The dark, slinking chromaticism of Bax’s This worldes joie also makes a strong impression, as do the more extroverted sections of John Ireland’s setting Greater love hath no man, though here again the tender entreaty of the coda is a particularly affecting moment.

Ireland’s Ex ore innocentium brings the boy choristers into the spotlight, and they grasp their moment with a confident display of crystalline tonal quality, an informed awareness of textual meaning, and the ability to vary dynamics convincingly. Daniel Livermore’s fine solo also deserves mention, as do the six singers who take solos in other pieces.

Occasionally – in Finzi’s Magnificat, for instance – the swirling power of the Westminster Abbey organ threatens to overface the lower voices, though the trebles continue to cut through with impressive clarity. Overall, though, the engineering captures the grand ambience of the Abbey in an evocative fashion. This is a richly enjoyable recital, with full texts and documentation included.

Terry Blain

Listen to an excerpt of this recording...

Music of Morocco: Recorded by Paul Bowles
Music of Morocco: Recorded by Paul Bowles
previous review Article
Michael Nagy performs songs by Brahms and Glanert
Michael Nagy performs songs by Brahms and Glanert
next review Article
We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here