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An Old Belief (The Sixteen)

The Sixteen/Harry Christophers (CORO)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

An Old Belief
Campion: Author of Light; Never weather-beaten sail; Tune thy music to thy heart; Howells: Take him, earth, for cherishing; Cecilia McDowall: Good News from New England – An Unexpected Shore; Parry: Songs of Farewell; Traditional: Deo gracias, Anglia; Saint Thomas Honour We; Benedicite Deo; O Blessed Lord
The Sixteen/Harry Christophers
CORO COR16189   76:03 mins

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Hubert Parry’s Songs of Farewell (1916-18) offers a moving tribute those who fell in the First World War. Parry was profoundly affected by the conflict and the work seeks solace through texts that celebrate for peace and the hope of a better world. Parry’s settings range from the elaborate polyphony he draws from Thomas Campion’s ‘Never weather-beaten sail’ to the hymn-like serenity of Henry Vaughan’s ‘I know my soul hath power to know all things’, while the final song ‘Lord, let me know mine end’ is the most magnificent of all, setting a passage from Psalm 93 for double choirs which blaze with hope and grief in equal measure.

The Sixteen is on terrific form throughout, bringing a glorious richness and depth of sound to this complex work. They embrace the texts with dynamism and sensitivity, while handling Parry’s shifting tempos with total assurance.

The disc continues the theme of hope for a better world through three short works by Thomas Campion, a handful of medieval carols, and ‘An unexpected Shore’ by Cecilia McDowall (the first movement of her new work Good News from New England). McDowall’s radiant anthem sets the words of Puritan separatist William Bradford as he recounts the voyage of the Mayflower. The work dextrously captures both the sway of the ocean and the relief of reaching firm ground, and this fine interpretation features a beautiful solo line from soprano Alexandra Kidgell.

A reminder of music’s power to offer solace and hope, this is a disc to bring light to dark times.

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Kate Wakeling