WORKS: Missa Aedis Christi; In Memoriam Anne Frank; Psalm 23; Ecce Homo; They Were Not Here; Marlborough Canticles
PERFORMER: Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford/Stephen Darlington; David Goode (organ); with Sherborne School Girls Chamber Singers; String Quintet
CATALOGUE NO: 476 3331
The theme tunes to television’s Mr Bean and The Vicar of Dibley are predictable selling points of this collection, and highlight Howard Goodall’s chipper, affable facility as a popular melodist. Is he anything more than that?
The 25-minute Missa Aedis Christi has the same generally agreeable characteristics as the shorter pieces, but there’s a worrying lack of deeper engagement with what are after all profoundly resonant statements of Christian doctrine – the Gloria is trendily syncopated but curiously facile emotionally, while the Agnus Dei, baldly mimicking Duruflé, lacks a distinctive sense of personal utterance.
The Nunc Dimittis from Marlborough Canticles is much more focused expressively (particularly its touching treble solo), as is the VE-Day commemoration They Were Not Here, which effectively utilises a more ambitious range of harmonies, and a string quintet accompaniment. The performances of the Christ Church Choir are generally appealing, if just a trifle routine-sounding in places. Terry Blain