ALBUM TITLE: Jesus Divine: Music for Christmas
WORKS: Music by Bach, Mendelssohn, Handel, Rutter, Willcocks,
PERFORMER: Various musicians; Brentwood Cathedral Choir; The Brentwood Singers/Andrew Wright
CATALOGUE NO: HAVPCD 299
A Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, sponsors Jesus Divine, a CD emanating from Brentwood Cathedral. At first glance this appears a fairly traditional collection, but on closer inspection familiar titles turn out to have the names of relatively unfamiliar composers attached to them. ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’, for instance, appears in an effectively restrained and dignified setting by liturgical composer Colin Mawby, who also gives ‘I Saw Three Ships’ a jauntily upbeat makeover. ‘The Holly and the Ivy’ is likewise decked in new melody and modern instrumentation by Andrew Wright. The juxtaposition of Poulenc’s ‘Quem vidistis pastores’ and Howells’s ‘A Spotless Rose’ is a particular highlight, as is the fragile delicacy of Costanzo Morena’s ‘Jesus Divine’, featuring no fewer than six soloists. Traditional carols, Messiah extracts and organ pieces by Bach and Buxtehude punctuate a programme which is thoughtfully planned and sensitively executed.