Blow, Child, Lawes, Purcell, Tallis, Turner

COMPOSERS: Blow,Child,Lawes,Purcell,Tallis,Turner
LABELS: Signum
ALBUM TITLE: Music at the Coronation of King James II, 1685
WORKS: Choral works by Blow, Child, Lawes, Purcell, Tallis, and Turner
PERFORMER: Choir of the Chapel Royal; The Musicians Extra-Ordinary/Andrew Gant
In an age decidedly partial to ‘reconstructions’, this in no Venetian coronation à la McCreesh, nor Georgian ceremonial as reimagined by Robert King. There are no drum fusillades, no regal fanfares, simply some of the music experienced by James II and his Queen on St George’s day 1685 – ahead of a coronation banquet comprising nearly 1,500 dishes including stags’ tongues and hot cocks-combs. How did Catholic James digest what amounts to a musical bill of fare embodying a pragmatic, sometimes utilitarian Protestantism? Henry Lawes’s Zadok is never going to knock Handel off his perch; William Turner’s setting of ‘The King Shall Rejoice’ is as workaday as the veteran Child’s Te Deum. And in truth Turner’s chant as applied to ‘Come Holy Ghost’ revels in a chromatic slide which can induce queasiness. But there is remedy. The final 30 minutes unleashes Blow’s magisterial ‘God spake sometime in visions’, and, even better, Purcell’s incomparable ‘My heart is Indicting’. Not surprisingly they inspire the choral heirs to that illustrious event to some of the most committed, characterful singing on the disc, the Blow concluded with some especially fervent Allelujahs. The Choir of the Chapel Royal might not sing with the effortless assurance of its rival all-adult ‘reconstructionists’, but the bright forthright verve carries an authenticity of its own. Paul Riley