COMPOSERS: Judith Bingham
ALBUM TITLE: Judith Bingham Choral Music
WORKS: Wells Service; Missa brevis ‘Awake my soul’; The Shepherd; Ave velum corpus; Jesum quaertis Nazarenum etc
PERFORMER: Wells Cathedral Choir/Matthew Owens; Jonathan Vaughn (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA67909
I can imagine the ‘Cantate Domino’ of the Wells Service, which opens this disc, being pressed along more quickly, but I’m glad conductor Matthew Owens doesn’t succumb to the temptation. The slower tempo enables the fascinating detail in Judith Bingham’s writing to register more fully, highlighting the little stabs of emphasis from the trebles on ‘With trumpets also and shawms’, for instance, and the subtly rocking underswells of organ accompanying ‘Let the sea make a noise’ a couple of lines later. The whole setting memorably commingles an anxious, questing quality with glimpses of certitude and placidity, a balance sensitively struck in this assured Wells Cathedral Choir performance.
The Missa Brevis is more austere, but has arresting moments, not least the rapt, harmonically ambivalent ‘Lamb of God’ movement. Among the shorter pieces the poignant Jesum quaeritis Nazarenum is graced by the poised confidence and crystalline purity of treble Finn Lacey’s solo contribution. The boy choristers are joined by the cathedral’s girls for the concluding Our faith is a light, a luminescent setting highlighting the bright, gleaming quality of tone the Wells top line is currently producing. The Hyperion recording is atmospheric and expertly balanced. Recommended.