WORKS: Magnificat; Love Bade Me Welcome; Song of the Herald; Evening Prayer
PERFORMER: Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford/Grayston Ives
CATALOGUE NO: CD 034
Magdalen is one of the three great choral foundations of Oxford, alongside New College and Christ Church. Two years after the death of its inspirational former master of the choristers Bernard Rose, Magdalen seems to be enjoying a new high, merging the best of the Rose tradition with the liturgical innovations introduced by his immediate successor, John Harper.
Both elements are reflected here: the disc includes both traditional ‘Evensong’, and a liturgically distinct form of ‘Evening Prayer’.In the latter, the ‘Song of the herald’ shows just how well Magdalen has recently mastered plainsong singing. But there are other distinctions. The present music director, Grayston Ives, once a member of the King’s Singers, is no mean hand at composition himself.
Ives’s Magnificat and a beautifully turned chant by Matthew Martin (a former organ scholar) are two of the chief pleasures. The acoustics are among England’s finest, the readings of a high standard, and the psalms well up to Magdalen’s best. The Rose Responses and Walton Evening setting are sung with aplomb, and the arching lines of John Harper’s Love bade me welcome, are lovingly managed. Not only Arvo Pärt fans will be touched by Pari intervallo, the beautiful closing voluntary. A worthy contribution to a Magdalen tradition dating back half a millennium. Roderic Dunnett