Stanford, Parry

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COMPOSERS: Parry,Stanford
LABELS: Regent
WORKS: Magnificat, Op. 164; For lo, I raise up; Ye choirs of new Jerusalem; Songs of Farewell
PERFORMER: Choir of Christ’s College, Cambridge/ David Rowland; Simon Jacobs (organ)
‘Lord, let me know mine end…’ Parry’s days were indeed numbered when he composed the last of his six unaccompanied Songs of Farewell in 1915, and the knowledge heightens our appreciation of his sombre, unblinking view of death. It also lends poignancy to the performance of the cycle by the young men and women of Christ’s Choir, at the start of their adult lives. But this makes a strong impression in its own right: fresh voices, precise pitching and chording, expert pacing by David Rowland, and a good recording. You may prefer the fuller tone of the Vasari Singers (Guild) or the classic Anglican sound of the boys and men of St George’s, Windsor (Hyperion). But this newcomer deserves to do well. It seems a pity that, rather than exploring more Parry, the disc should perpetuate the old, misleading pairing of him with Stanford. And, although Stanford’s Bachian Latin Magnificat is an obvious choice because of its dedication to Parry’s memory, its virtuoso double-choir writing rather overtaxes the smallish Christ’s Choir. But the wartime anthem For lo, I raise up has the right combination of fierceness and consolation, and two hymn-anthems and two short organ pieces complete the programme in fine style. Anthony Burton