Vierne • Dupré • Widor

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Vierne; Dupré; Widor
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Vierne • Dupré • Widor
WORKS: Messe solennelle in C sharp minor; Tantum ergo; Ave Maria; Four Motets; Messe à deux choeurs et deux orgues
PERFORMER: Choir of Westminster Cathedral/James O’Donnell
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66898

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If anyone is looking for a natural successor to George Guest’s pace-setting St John’s College Choir of the Sixties and Seventies, they could do worse than turn to this Westminster Cathedral Choir series on Hyperion. French music is one of the choir’s specialities. The polished gem here is the set of Dupré motets, creatively contrapuntal, strong and original, though more robustly sung than Westminster’s Duruflé on the same label, without quite the tracery of delicate phrasing and with some over-emphasis from the men. The boy-led Ave Maria enchants. As enjoyable are the Vierne and Widor Masses, the latter new to CD (but check out the alternative pairings for Vierne, which include a historic Notre Dame disc with full brass). The twin Westminster organs render good service. I have a penchant for the trimmer, noble Widor setting, a plainsong-tinged post-Gounod work (the rattling ‘Surrexit’ filler is not all that far from Stanford and Wood). Widor’s prolonged sections for distended lower voices recall that the legendary Saint-Sulpice still had a seminary attached to it prior to 1905 (see the usual high-quality Hyperion booklet note). Some engaging organ registration colours Vierne’s Agnus Dei: the boys’ tone radiates at its continental best in the ‘Quoniam’ of the Widor Gloria.

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Roderic Dunnett