ALBUM TITLE: Jongen , Peeters
WORKS: Messe en l’honneur du Saint- Sacrement; Deus Abraham; Pie Jesu, Quid sum miser?; Missa Festiva
PERFORMER: Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge; London City Brass/David Hill
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67603
Two substantial Masses by Belgian composers here, the Jongen recalling Franck while the Peeters hints at Hindemith-like clarity. Both are worthwhile pieces and are here given effective and forceful performances. No intimate, finely-chiselled musings here, but that’s never been David Hill’s style (I would not go as far as an organist colleague of his, who once claimed that listening to Winchester Cathedral choir, then under Hill’s direction, made his throat hurt). In any case, this is undoubtedly butch music, bold and brassy as it comes, literally so in the case of the Jongen – it’s accompanied by the London City Brass.
The essential ethos of Hill’s choral style is that singing should be full and liberated, and St John’s is certainly one of the choirs that fast-tracks many of its members into opera. Whether that is what you want from a collegiate men and boys choir is another matter, though there are refined moments among the fullpelt; I particularly enjoyed the more intimate textures at the end of the Peeters’ Agnus Dei. The few extra solo items, featuring Tom Gould on the violin, are charming, too. Hill goes on to next to conduct the BBC Singers. Now that will be an interesting match. William Whitehead