Works by Darke, Vaughan Williams, Bax, Rhiannon Randle, Jonathan Rennert, Philip Moore & Gareth Treseder
William Morley (trumpet), Nicola Corbishley (soprano), Patrick Craig (countertenor), Colin Huehns (erhu), Jeremiah Stephenson, Graham Thorpe & Benjamin Newlove (organ); The Choir of St Michael’s Cornhill/Jonathan Rennert
Regent REGCD550 66.03 mins
There has been a church on the site of St Michael’s Cornhill in the City of London since the 12th century, and its current director of music Jonathan Rennert has just celebrated his 40th year in the position. One of Rennert’s pieces, a dark-hued chant setting of Psalm 79, is included on this recording celebrating the church’s musical activities over the past century.
For fully half that time Harold Darke (of ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ fame) was director of music: he’s represented by four works, including the touching short anthem ‘The eyes of all’ and the more extroverted ‘Be strong and of a good courage’. Vaughan Williams was a regular attendee at St Michael’s, and his ‘A Vision of Aeroplanes’ was written to mark Darke’s 40th anniversary at the church. It gets a spirited performance, but perhaps the most striking piece on the disc is ‘memoria’, by St Michael’s’ current composer-in-residence Rhiannon Randle. Accompanied on the erhu (a type of Chinese fiddle), it makes a haunting impression.
With a choir of just 13 singers Rennert distils an atmosphere of involving intimacy throughout the recital. Occasionally textures seem fragile, but in general these are sentient, consistently engaging performances. Terry Blain