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England, My England / Choir Of King's Choir Cambridge


Release Date: 08/11/2009 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 28944  
Composer:  George Frideric HandelSir Edward ElgarJohn GossThomas Tallis,   ... 
Conductor:  Stephen CleoburySir David WillcocksSir Philip Ledger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient MusicCambridge King's College ChoirAcademy of St. Martin in the Fields,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews


I guess that a lot of purchasers of this new release will just bang it into their CD players in the car and let rip. They will allow this music to envelop them as they drive along the West Lancs Road or around the M25. And there is probably nothing wrong with that. In fact, it was only the other day that a car pulled up at the traffic-lights at the bottom of Regent Street. The day was hot and sunny: the windows were down. Yet the wall of sound that nearly knocked me over was not ‘rap’ or ‘hip-hop’ – it was the ‘Final’ from Louis Vierne’s great Sixth Symphony for Organ. A million watts of energy and sheer naked, power! But I wonder whether the driver was actually listening? Concentration is what is needed for this present CD, in spite
Read more of its largely ‘popular’ appeal. It is not a fashion accessory, but a compendium of some of the greatest and most uplifting music written in England and performed by the country’s most the iconic choirs.


I reviewed these CDs over a considerable time – with my remote control in my hand. I explored. I did not listen end to end: I grouped and contrasted and stopped and started. Fundamentally, it is always a problem I have with a major compilation – be it Johann Sebastian Bach, Perry Como or Jimmy Hendrix.

What tips can I give for a logical exploration of England, My England? Well, first of all it can be sliced vertically or horizontally, by which I mean chronologically or by genre. I would prefer the latter. Now I imagine that most purchasers of a double CD of music by the world’s greatest ‘church’ choir (not just my opinion!) will have a certain sympathy with religious and liturgical music even if they do not sit in the choir stalls or the pews twice on a Sunday! So, perhaps the first group of pieces to explore are the Hymns. These are the ones that my late mother would have wanted to listen to. She was always singing them around the house and enjoyed hearing them sung by a good choir. All the big hitters are here. The ultimately tragic Abide with Me written by Henry Francis Lyte as he lay dying from tuberculosis and later to become a favourite of the Military and the F.A. Cup Final. The fine processional Praise my Soul the King of Heaven, the masterpiece of hymnology by Vaughan Williams, Come down of Love Divine and his Coronation arrangement of the massive Old Hundredth-  All People that on Earth do Dwell. But King’s College do not forget the more intimate moments associated with the service of Evensong. Favourites include Orlando Gibbons exquisite Drop, drop slow tears and the ever popular The Day that thou gavest Lord is ended is beautifully sung.

I am pleased that the compilers of these CDs have chosen to include a few examples of that great Church of England gift to musical endeavour – the Anglican Chant. So often these chants are performed by choirs and congregations doing their very best, but not quite getting there. They are to be commended for this effort and their upholding of ‘tradition’. But for sheer perfection King’s College takes some beating. Four Psalms are presented here – including Oh how amiable are thy dwellings, The Lord is my Shepherd and the last psalm in the Psalter – O Praise God in his holiness. The Book of Psalms is one of most spiritual and inspiring in the Good Book and deserves both thought and attention.  For my money it is always helpful to hear them chanted, as opposed to the metrical versions so often heard in Free Churches or worse still, to the machinations of a Church Music Group – strumming guitars and the inevitable keyboard!

The next tranche to explore could be the liturgical pieces. Rutter’s Pie Jesu and Requiem aeternam will appeal to people who like his music! William Byrd’s Ave Verum Corpus could well be used at a High Church service of the Benediction of the Holy Sacrament and add vitally to its numinous atmosphere. Britten’s Jubilate Deo probably does not get many outings in parish churches across the nation, but it certainly deserves it place here, with its quicksilver organ accompaniment. Ralph Vaughan Williams’s great Mass in G minor is represented with the stunningly beautiful Kyrie: it is a perfect fusion of Tudor and 20th Century choral music. The Victorian masters are well represented with Stanford’s fine Magnificat in G. This is one of my favourite settings of this inspiring text.

Then there are the potboilers. Zadok the Priest from the pen of that honorary Englishman, George Frederic Handel gets the first disc off to a great start. Another Coronation anthem, Parry’s I was Glad closes the proceedings. Parry is also represented with his ubiquitous Jerusalem. One wonders just how many singers of this hymn know who wrote the words or the music and has a clue as to what it means? Holst appears with an extract from the Planets Suite- I vow to thee, my country. Often regarded by certain elements in the political spectrum as being imperialistic and jingoistic, this work has once again taken its place in the repertoire after it was used by the Prince and Princess of Wales at their wedding in 1981. I suggest to detractors from this great song that they read the words – the ‘other country’ is not Blighty as they want to believe, but the Kingdom of Heaven! And lastly, there is the great Hallelujah Chorus. I wonder if people still stand for this, and if they know why?

Anthems are well represented here with Tallis’s magnificent construction for forty parts – Spem in Alium. Another of his fine works is the beautiful O nata lux de lumine. One work I did not know was Balfour Gardner’s Evening Hymn. It is a truly lovely and haunting piece. It is sad that so little of his music has survived. Stanford’s Beati quorum via and Vaughan Williams Antiphon are two important works that are well established in the repertoire, though I like to hear the latter as part of a full performance of the Five Mystical Songs. Other composers represented by anthems include Henry Purcell, Robert Parsons, Thomas Weelkes, Orlando Gibbons, Edward Bairstow, John Ireland and John Taverner.  However, my favourite of this group is the delicious and utterly moving Faire is the heaven by William Harris. It is worth buying the album for this alone!

Then there are the unclassifiables. I wonder what possessed anyone (John Cameron did, bless him) to set the Lux Aeterna to the great ninth variation, Nimrod, from Elgar’s Enigma Variations. It is all wrong. Although I guess it works (sort of) musically, I hate the idea of hacking around a masterpiece. As a musical snob, I only tolerate Nimrod at the Remembrance Day Parade, out of respect for the bravery of the women and men commemorated.  It needs to be in its designated place between the 8 th and the 10 th variations and nowhere else.

If a militant atheist was given this CD as a present at least they would have two pieces they could listen to with a clear conscience. Firstly there is Purcell’s fine Come ye sons of art away from the Birthday Ode for Queen Mary for soloists, chorus and instruments. And secondly there is the exquisite To be sung of a summer night on the water by Fred. Delius. I rate this alongside Stanford’s Bluebird for sheer beauty and perfection.

The title of the CD is refreshingly ambiguous. Different people will read different things into it. I thought of D.H. Lawrence’s short story, a friend suggested that it was derived from the largely forgotten poet W.H. Henley’s largely forgotten poem “What have I done for you/England, my England”. And then there was a film about the life of Henry Purcell with that name...

Whatever the derivation of this title, this double CD is great value and is a fine introduction to English Choral music. This is sung with the unmistakable King’s College sound that evokes the atmosphere of the fundamentally Christian religious sensibilities of this country. This is a CD that can be enjoyed by all lovers of choral music, irrespective of their belief. It is a CD that manifests the spirit of Christianity as well as the long tradition of that faith in England and her music.

-- John France, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Coronation Anthems (4): no 1, HWV 258 "Zadok the priest" by George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music,  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1727; London, England 
2. Lux aeterna by Sir Edward Elgar
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Romantic 
3. Praise my soul, the King of Heaven by John Goss
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 19th Century; England 
4. Spem in alium by Thomas Tallis
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: after 1559; England 
5. The Lord is my shepherd by John Goss
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: England 
6. Messiah, HWV 56: Hallelujah! by George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1742; London, England 
7. Requiem: Pie Jesu by John Rutter
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sinfonia of London,  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985; England 
8. English Hymnal: no 1, Come down, O Love divine by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sinfonia of London,  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1906; England 
9. O nata lux de lumine by Thomas Tallis
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: after 1559; England 
10. Evening Hymn "Te lucis ante terminum" by Henry Balfour Gardiner
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908; England 
11. Gradualia, Volume 1: Part 2 - Ave verum corpus by William Byrd
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1605; England 
12. When I survey the wondrous Cross by Edward Miller
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Classical 
Written: England 
13. Motets (3), Op. 38: no 3, Beati quorum via by Charles Villiers Stanford
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1905; England 
14. Mystical Songs (5): no 5, Antiphon by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  English Chamber Orchestra,  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; England 
15. Gradualia, Volume 1: Part 1 - no 31, Iustorum animae by William Byrd
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: by 1605; England 
16. Come, ye sons of art, away, Z 323 by Henry Purcell
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of Ancient Music,  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1694; England 
17. Faire is the Heaven by William Henry Harris
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925; England 
18. God be merciful unto us, and bless us by Edward Bairstow
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
19. Ave Maria by Robert Parsons
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 1560s; England 
20. All people that on Earth do dwell by Loys Bourgeois
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century 
21. Jerusalem by Charles Hubert Parry
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1916; England 
22. Requiem: Requiem aeternam by John Rutter
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sinfonia of London,  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985; England 
23. I vow to thee, my country, H 148 by Gustav Holst
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1921; England 
24. Song for Athene by John Tavener
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993; England 
25. Abide with me by William Henry Monk
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1861; England 
26. Services in G major, Op. 81: Evening Service - Magnificat by Charles Villiers Stanford
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904; England 
27. Thou know'st, Lord, the secrets of our hearts, Z 58c by Henry Purcell
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1695; England 
28. Hosanna to the Son of David by Orlando Gibbons
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 17th Century; England 
29. The day thou gavest by Clement C. Scholefield
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Romantic 
30. Psalm 84 "Quam dilecta" by Charles Hubert Parry
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: England 
31. Mass in G minor: Kyrie by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
32. Greater love hath no man by John Ireland
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912; England 
33. If ye love me by Thomas Tallis
Conductor:  Sir Philip Ledger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; England 
34. Jubilate Deo in C major by Benjamin Britten
Conductor:  Sir Philip Ledger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961; England 
35. Drop, drop, slow tears by Orlando Gibbons
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
36. Songs (2) to be sung of a Summer Night on the Water by Frederick Delius
Conductor:  Sir Philip Ledger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917; France 
37. Psalm 150 "O praise God in his holiness" by David Goodenough
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
38. When David heard that Absalom was slain by Thomas Weelkes
Conductor:  Sir David Willcocks
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
39. I was glad by Charles Hubert Parry
Conductor:  Sir Philip Ledger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Royal Military School of Music Band  ... 
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1902; England 

Sound Samples

Zadok the Priest (Handel)
Lux aeterna (choral setting of 'Nimrod' from the 'Enigma' Variations Op. 36)
Praise, my soul, the King of heaven (Praise, my soul) (desc. Cleobury)
Spem in Alium Nunquam Habui
Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd (1989 Digital Remaster)
Messiah HWV56 (1992 Digital Remaster), PART 2: Hallelujah (chorus: Allegro)
Requiem: 3. Pie Jesu (Edward Saklatvala, treble)
Come down, O Love divine (Down Ampney)
O nata lux de lumine
Evening Hymn (Te lucis ante terminum) (1995 Digital Remaster)
Ave verum corpus (Gradualia I, 1605)
When I survey the wondrous cross (Rockingham)
Three Motets Op. 38 (1995 Digital Remaster): 3. Beati quorum via (Psalm 119:1)
Five Mystical Songs: 5. Antiphon [chorus only]
Gradualia, Vol 1/i: Feast of All Saints (2004 Digital Remaster): Iustorum animae
Come ye sons of art away
Faire is the heaven (Spenser)
Psalm 67: God be merciful unto us, and bless us
Ave Maria.
All people that on earth do dwell (The Old Hundredth)
Jerusalem
Requiem: 1. Requiem aeternam
I vow to thee, my country (Thaxted)
Song for Athene
Abide with me (vv. 2, 4 & 5 arr. Cleobury)
Morning, Communion and Evening Services in G Op. 81: Magnificat (Luke 1:46 & Doxology)
Funeral Anthem of Queen Mary 1695: Thou knowest, Lord Z58c
Hosanna to the Son of David
The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended (St Clement)
Psalm 84: O how amiable are thy dwellings (1989 Digital Remaster)
Mass in G minor: Kyrie
Greater love hath no man
If ye love me (1994 Digital Remaster)
Dear Lord and Father of mankind (Repton)
Jubilate Deo (1961) (2004 Digital Remaster)
Drop, drop, slow tears (Song 46)
To be sung of a summer night on the water RTIV/5 (1995 Digital Remaster): I. Slow, but not dragging
Psalm 150: O praise God in his Holiness (1989 Digital Remaster)
When David heard
I was glad [orchestral version] (1988 Digital Remaster)

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