WORKS: The Twelve; Coronation Te Deum; Missa brevis; Magnificat & Nunc dimitis
PERFORMER: Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge/Christopher Robinson; Christopher Whitton (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.555793
Since its Naxos debut in 1999 with music by Herbert Howells, the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, under Christopher Robinson, has gone on to make excellent discs of Britten, Rubbra and Tavener. Now, in time for the centenary, comes a selection of music by William Walton.
The opening Coronation Te Deum is one of the finest settings of the canticle by any British composer. With its jubilant choral acclamations, exhilarating organ responses (the magnificently fiery en chamade reeds deployed here by Christopher Whitton) and bold modulations, the Te Deum stirs the spirit as a special-occasion piece should, and the vivid Naxos recording takes us right into the chapel.
At the other end of the scale, the affecting Set me as a Seal upon thine Heart and Drop, drop slow tears are exquisitely done. From the years of Walton’s full maturity (the Sixties and Seventies) come the strikingly original anthem The Twelve, as well as settings of the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis, Jubilate Deo, a Missa brevis and an Antiphon. All are dispatched with the style and professionalism that guarantee the status of St John’s as one of the leading choirs in the country. Barry Millington