COMPOSERS: Bassano,Byrd,Hadley,Haller,L’Heritier,Lassus,Martin,Palestrina,Rachmaninov,Scheidt,Stanford,Taverner,Vaughan Williams,Wesley
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Haec Dies
WORKS: Works by Lassus, Taverner, Scheidt, Vaughan Williams, Byrd, Martin, Bassano, Palestrina, Haller, L’Heritier, Rachmaninov, Wesley, Hadley and Stanford
PERFORMER: Choir of Clare College, Cambridge/Graham Ross; Matthew Jorysz (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: Harmonia Mundi HMU 907655
This is the sixth CD in a bespoke series covering different seasons of the church year, and is every bit as desirable as its predecessors. Easter is the focus, and though the music selected spans five centuries, there’s a strong emphasis on Renaissance pieces.
Brightness of attack marks the Clare College singing in the opening Aurora lucis rutilat of Lassus. There’s a sense here of a story that urgently needs telling, words like ‘triumphans’ and ‘resplendens’ injected with energy, ‘in hoc paschali gaudio’ vibrantly projecting the elation of the resurrection message. The story of Taverner’s beautiful Dum transisset Sabbatum – that of the anointing of Christ’s body in the tomb – is differently told. Here the choir, subtly modulated by conductor Graham Ross, spins a wonderfully fluid, mellifluous texture, tenderly symbolising the acts of unction performed by the two Marys and Salome.
Of the modern selections Matthew Martin’s pulsing Haec dies gives both the singers and their organist Matthew Jorysz a buoyant rhythmic workout, confidently negotiated, and I loved the sudden, unexpected fade to black at the conclusion. Baritone Laurence Harris is the noble, dignified soloist in Vaughan Williams’s Easter, where Graham Ross’s sensitively shaping hand is again much in evidence.
These are, all told, performances of real quality and intelligence, by a choir which has carved a highly distinctive niche for itself amid the Oxbridge scramble.