Collection: Anthems from King’s

COMPOSERS: Howells,Parry,Wood
LABELS: BBC Opus Arte
PERFORMER: Choir of King’s College, Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury
CATALOGUE NO: OA 0834 D

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Church music may well be the only area of classical music m which the surround-sound capability of the DVD format has genuinely beneficial effect.

And so in the selection of popular church anthems from the late 19th-/ early 20th-century Anglican revival, the impressive full-length shots of King’s College chapel, taking in the opulent fan vaulting and expanses of stained glass, are matched by an atmospheric sonic ambience that evocatively captures the listening experience in a large church.

The effect is less noticeable than one might imagine in the double-choir anthems, Wood’s Hail, Gladdening Light and Harris’s Faire is the Heaven, but evident in the outbursts of Naylor’s Vox dicentis: Clama, and of great atmospheric value in the closing organ passages of Faire is the Heaven and Ireland’s Greater Love Hath No Man.

From the view purely of performance, the choir members themselves often appear physically inert to the music — the consequence of the professional church-singer’s rigorous routine – but the singing itself is refined.

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A half-hour BBC documentary, narrated by Aled Jones, focusing on various choristers and their daily lives is among the special features, as is a performance of Stanford’s Postlude in D minor with three selectable camera angles, making novel use, for a classical release, of the DVD medium. Edward Bhesania