WORKS: Evening Service in C; Evening Service in G; Three Motets; Latin Magnificat; Two Bible Songs; Anthems
PERFORMER: John Mark Ainsley (tenor); Choir of King’s College, Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 55535 2
Stanford is often remembered as the teacher of the generation of composers which included Holst and Vaughan Williams, but he was also creatively prolific in his own right. During his own time his reputation was strongest for his symphonic works and many oratorios; but with the passing of the years it was his church music which received most exposure.
In the 1880s Stanford brought new standards to English church music, while holding the music chair at Cambridge, following a period as organist at Trinity College. He adopted the sophisticated approach of his mentor Brahms, and each of these recordings features a masterly example of the ‘new style’: The Lord Is My Shepherd. Both choirs sing this beautiful anthem with distinction, and the performances characterise the differences between the two discs. The Oxford sound is richer and closer than the Cambridge, but the latter lacks nothing in impact; indeed, the wide dynamic range is beautifully captured in an atmospheric acoustic.
The programmes overlap only slightly and the performance standards are outstanding. The discs are therefore complementary, extending our awareness of this sensitive and skilful composer, in repertoire which contains some of the most rewarding of all English music. Terry Barfoot