COMPOSERS: Benjamin,Gibbons,Grier and Weir,Howells,Leighton,Messiaen,Parry,Purcell,Stanford,Tippett,Tye,Vaughan Williams,Walton
LABELS: The Choir of King’s College
ALBUM TITLE: Evensong Live 2016
WORKS: Choral works by Parry, Stanford, Tye, Vaughan Williams, Walton, Purcell, Gibbons, Leighton, Tippett, Messiaen, Howells, Benjamin, Grier and Weir
PERFORMER: Choir of King’s College, Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury; Douglas Tang, Tom Etheridge (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: KGS 0015
There are many subtleties in this set of performances. The intimate interplay between the crystalline solo of treble Tom Hopkins and his fellow choristers in Stanford’s Magnificat is one of them, as is the careful gauging of dynamics towards the refulgent ‘Glory be’ at the conclusion. Astute parsing of the narrative marks Stephen Cleobury’s shaping of Vaughan Williams’s Bunyan motet Valiant-for-truth, where the seven-part vocal writing is delicately woven and balanced. But there are distractions too. Page rustles and congregational noises are evident – these are live recordings, made in King’s College Chapel – including at one point in the Stanford what sounds like an infant addressing its parent. Enunciation is also patchy, crisp phrase endings alternating with passages where consonants are undersharpened and rhythms flaccid. These are, to some extent, warts-and-all performances, caught on the wing of a busy working schedule of rehearsals and services.
Highlights include a beautifully paced, sentient account of Leighton’s Drop, drop, slow tears, and ’Twas in the year that King Uzziah died, a gripping setting from Isaiah by King’s alumnus George Benjamin, where tenor Toby Ward is an eloquent soloist. Nicholas Marston’s notes are excellent, although the font is barely readable.