C Wood

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Priory
WORKS: Out of the Deep; Bow Down Thine Ear; How Dazzling Fair
PERFORMER: Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge/Geoffrey Webber; Gavin Roberts, Timothy Kennedy (organ)
As you might expect from someone who taught at the Royal College of Music (Tippett was among his pupils), and became professor of music at Cambridge in succession to his own teacher Stanford, Charles Wood’s music is accomplished and fluent. His anthems bespeak the comfortable, well-fed Anglicanism of the college chapel or cathedral at the turn of the 20th century, and often use old hymn or psalm melodies as their basis. In some of the simpler settings – Out of the Deep, or Bow Down Thine Ear – this ends up giving the impression of Hymns Ancient and Modern with knobs on, and How Dazzling Fair uses a technique all too familiar from Christmas carols: first the tune on the top, then in the middle, and finally in unison with new harmonies on the organ. He’s more interesting either when he’s brief, as in Oculi omnium, a lovely, contained grace setting; or when he extends himself into more complicated structures and textures. Hail, Gladdening Light uses the effects of double choir most effectively, and Once He Came in Blessing exploits a wider range of tempo, harmony and dynamics. The sound of the choir is an exact match for the music: well-blended, smooth and civilised. Martin Cotton