ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Coronation Anthems
WORKS: Choir of New College, Oxford, Academy of Ancient Music/Edward Higginbottom
PERFORMER: Choir of New College, Oxford, Academy of Ancient Music/Edward Higginbottom
CATALOGUE NO: 470 226-2
This anthology of anthems features music written for and performed at English coronation services over three-quarters of a century, from 1685 to 1761. Its release is in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Handel’s four splendid and wonderfully varied Coronation anthems, together with Purcell’s I Was Glad and My Heart is Inditing have long taken centre stage in music for these occasions, causing us to overlook pieces by other composers expressly written for English coronation services. Edward Higginbottom, the Choir of New College Oxford and the Academy of Ancient Music have redressed the matter with a survey of anthems sung at the coronations of James II, William and Mary, Anne and the first three Georges.
For some reason the programme works backwards, starting with three anthems by Boyce for the Coronation of George III. Then follow Handel’s Zadok the Priest and The King Shall Rejoice for George II. George I is represented by a beautiful piece by William Croft, The Lord God is a Sun and a Shield, Queen Anne by Jeremiah Clarke’s Praise the Lord O Jerusalem. William and Mary were fortunate in having two fine anthems by Blow, and James II immeasurably so in three by Purcell. The voices of the New College choristers – some 16 in all – sound fresh, eager and youthful, and the lay clerks disciplined and fairly evenly balanced. An enjoyable disc.