WORKS: Coronation Te Deum; Missa Brevis; Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis; Four Christmas Carols
PERFORMER: The Finzi Singers/Paul Spicer
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9222 DDD
For a composer who publically displayed little evidence of religious belief, Walton devoted a surprising amount of time and effort to liturgical and other religious music. Making no claims to completeness in this field of Walton’s endeavour, this collection by the Finzi Singers contains works as varied as his first published composition, a Litany composed at the age of 15, the 1953 Coronation Te Deum (more usually heard with its orchestral accompaniment), a quartet of unaccompanied Christmas carols and several works for the Anglican liturgy, several written for his old Oxford college, Christ Church, including a collaboration with another old boy, WH Auden, in the anthem The Twelve.
The singing is often dramatically forthright in attack yet refined in timbre (with women’s voices tending towards the purer sound of boys’ voices) and perhaps more daring in its expressiveness than would be usual from a cathedral or chapel choir. Andrew Lumsden’s organ playing is superb, especially when he is able to let off steam in the pomp and ceremony of the Te Deum. Both choir and organ have been sympathetically recorded and balanced, with microphones seeming relatively close in the warm, resonant acoustic of Marlborough College, Wiltshire. Matthew Rye