Classical CD Reviews

Miserere: A Sequence of Music for Lent, St. Joseph, and the Annunciation – Westminster Cathedral Choir/ Martin Baker – Hyperion

Another stylish and well-planned program, this time mixing old and fairly new.

Published on June 21, 2013

Miserere: A Sequence of Music for Lent, St. Joseph, and the Annunciation – Westminster Cathedral Choir/ Martin Baker – Hyperion

Miserere: A Sequence of Music for Lent, St. Joseph, and the Annunciation – Westminster Cathedral Choir/ Martin Baker, director – Hyperion CDA67938, 79:15 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] (1/13) ****:

There is really not a lot to say about this disc. The title gives the reason for it, but the season/services themselves are not especially related. The real reason for these selections is, I suspect, to highlight the work of three modern composers, George Malcolm (Master of Music at Westminster from 1947-59), David Bevan (from 1972 to 1976 Assistant Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral), and Colin Mawby (Master of Music at Westminster from 1961-76, and a chorister under George Malcolm), but especially Malcolm, who has most of the pieces here. The rest of the program consists of popular composers from years gone by—way by—and I was shocked at how well the recent and ancient compositions fit together. It’s not that the moderns are anachronistic—certainly not—but the style they employ is so deceptively “churchly” with so many allusions to the ancients that you might be hard pressed without careful listening to tell them apart.

This choir has been setting standards for years, and their many recordings are a testament to a vast heritage of excellence that they represent. Martin Baker directs with sympathy and a sense of family atmosphere—these composers are part of his fraternity—and approaches all these works with style and substance. Hyperion’s sound, as usual from this location, is first rate.

TrackList:
Anonymous: Attende, Domine; Audi, benigne conditor; Evigila super nos; Mass IX ‘Cum iubilo’; Credo IV; Salva nos, Domine
Bevan, D: Magnificat quarti toni
Byrd: Emendemus in melius
Croce: In spiritu humilitatis
Guerrero: Ave Virgo sanctissima
Malcolm: Miserere mei, Deus; Scapulis suis; Veritas mea; Nunc dimittis tertii toni
Mawby: Iustus ut palma
Palestrina: Missa Emendemus in melius
Parsons, R: Ave Maria
Tallis: Te lucis ante terminum

—Steven Ritter




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