Gaudent in Coelis: The Choirs of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge sing works by Beamish, Bingham and Marsh

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COMPOSERS: Beamish,Bingham and Marsh
LABELS: Resonus
ALBUM TITLE: Gaudete in Coelis
WORKS: Beamish: Gaudent in Coelis; Two Canticles; St Catharine’s Service; J Marsh: Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me; Missa Brevis: Collegium Sanctae Catharinae; J Bingham: Edington Service; The Spirit of Truth; The Darkness is no Darkness; Distant thunder; Tallis: If ye love me; SS Wesley: Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace; Parry: My soul there is a country
PERFORMER: The Choirs of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge/Edward Wickham
CATALOGUE NO: RES 10185

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Many of the pieces here are CD premieres, and two were specially commissioned for the choirs of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge – the mixed-voice undergraduate and graduate choir, and the choir of local schoolgirls formed in 2008 by director of music Edward Wickham. Combined for this recording, they number 49 singers in total.

Together they lay down an early marker of sensitivity and technical adroitness in Joanna Marsh’s psalm setting Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me, whose challenging harmonies and tricky intervals are raptly encompassed. Marsh’s dark-hued Missa Brevis has two sections for female singers only, while Judith Bingham’s austere Edington Service is entirely for the upper voices. In both works the St Catharine’s girls and women exhibit a gleamingly blended tonal quality, and an articulate engagement with the Latin text.

The tenors and basses have their own solo moments in Sally Beamish’s St Catharine’s Service, and produce a pleasingly focused sound, with fluid variation of dynamics and an impressive agreement on how vowels should sound. For much of this, of course, conductor Edward Wickham deserves credit: his firm, intelligent shaping of this enterprising and rewarding recital is a major factor, as is the ripe Resonus recording.

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Terry Blain