Vaughan Williams: Hymns and choral music

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COMPOSERS: Vaughan Williams
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Hymns and choral music
PERFORMER: Choir of Worcester Cathedral/Christopher Robinson; Choir of Westminster Abbey/Douglas Guest
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 6550 ADD
If you are interested in the great Anglican tradition that gripped Vaughan Williams, these recordings will be fascinating. But, hymn fan or not, this choral music, as performed by the choirs of Worcester Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, is a pleasure to the ear.

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The purity of sound in such slight works as O Taste and See and. the sheer musicality and naivety of such songs as the Children’s Christmas Song are a joy.

His Te Deum appears on both this recording and that of the English String Orchestra and Christ Church Cathedral Choir, but it’s Worcester Cathedral Choir’s organ-accompanied version that comes out resoundingly on top. The diction is finer and each note crystal clear.

Christ Church, on the other hand, battles against what seems to be an inferior acoustic and an orchestral accompaniment which doesn’t always let the choir shine through.

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Of interest in the Christ Church collection, though, are the sensuous, passionate and wordless Flos Campi and An Oxford Elegy, in which Matthew Arnold’s story of a poor scholar is narrated by Jack May with a deliciously serene orchestral and choral accompaniment. Both good recordings for those with a specialist interest. Tessa Williams