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Requiem: Choral Works By Sir Philip Ledger

Ledger / Choir Of Christ's College / Rowland
Release Date: 01/12/2010 
Label:  Regent   Catalog #: 305   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Philip Ledger
Performer:  Michal KaznowskiLuke StrevensDavid AyreClare Lloyd,   ... 
Conductor:  Philip LedgerDavid Rowland
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



LEDGER Requiem, A Thanksgiving for Life Philip Ledger, David Rowland, cond; Clare Lloyd (sop); Christopher Gillett (ten); Roxy Summerfield, David Rowland (org); Christ’s College, Cambridge Ch REGENT 305 (70:22)


Sir Philip Ledger (b. 1937) is a pianist, harpsichordist, organist, conductor and composer, who devoted a generous portion of his musical life to King’s College, Cambridge, where he was first a student and then director of music from 1974 until 1982. Since then, he has Read more composed, concertized, and conducted throughout the world. Ledger’s Requiem, A Thanksgiving for Life (2007), as evidenced in this 2008 recording, demonstrates that, for the composers of contemporary liturgical music such as Ledger, there are constraints on complexity and experimentation. Even the likes of Bach had to play by the rules, composing music that was appropriately canonical and, at the same time, sensitive to the limitations of the singers and instrumentalists who would be performing it. Now, 260 years later, the task for Ledger appears to be no less a tightrope; after all, he composes music for specific religious services often sung by amateurs. Therefore, he chooses to construct music that is user-friendly for listeners and performers alike, while not overlooking the requirements of the form. So it goes without saying you are not going to find much atonal music here or, for that matter, much innovation. However, there is a romantic, traditional, anachronistic crossword to be enjoyed, in which, playing by the various rules, composers of liturgical music like Ledger can still hint at ingenuity.


Though Ledger’s Requiem is mostly conventional by these standards, the work demonstrates an attempt to gently push boundaries while remaining decidedly approachable, quite beautiful, and occasionally sublime—and it is not cloying, as is so much contemporary church music, and that may be a virtue in itself. Examples: The opening, Birth of the Soul , with words by the mystical poet Thomas Traherne (c. 1636–74), scored for flute, harp, and soprano, is blissful and creates the required contemplative mood. The Thanksgiving Hymn has an anthem-esque, stately, and, with its swelling accompaniments, heart-stirring dénouement. In the Sanctus , there is uplifting counterpoint reminiscent of Handel. The Pie Jesu is gorgeous and memorable, a set-piece.


In addition to the Requiem, there are 13 well-set choral works to texts by anonymous writers, as well as such poets as Christina Rossetti, all very much in the style of 20th-century British composers. It should come as no surprise, then, that Ledger worked closely with Benjamin Britten as an artistic director of the Aldenburgh Festival. Ledger’s music is, perhaps, more akin to Britten’s more popular fare without exploring new ground. Of note is the Chauceresque Adam Lay Ybounden , the traditional carol-like Good Christian Men, Rejoice , the intricately programmatic In the Bleak Mid-winter , the cyclonic Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep , and the rousing This Joyful Eastertide.


If you are a connoisseur of contemporary liturgical music, Ledger’s Requiem and other choral works should certainly find a place in your collection. Is it suitable as concert music outside of church? Though we may, after time has passed, forget that works in the pantheon of great music were meant specifically for liturgical purposes—the cantatas and passions of Bach or the requiems of Fauré or Britten, for example, seem to transcend genre as religious works—Ledger’s Requiem does not seem exceptional enough or aged enough to be heard without feeling that its proper venue is solely in church. Perhaps if his music were less generic and took more risks, it could escape the confines of the rigidly sacred and join the secular world. But I suspect Ledger is satisfied doing what he is doing and has no great desire to leave his meditative, pleasantly musical, cloistered life. There is something comforting here, however, like reading a newspaper in print rather than online, and the Requiem is like a preservation project, as if the history of music ceased in 1895. The recording is enhanced by the reverberant Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge.


FANFARE: David Wolman
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Works on This Recording

1.
Requiem ("A thanksgiving for life"), for chorus by Philip Ledger
Performer:  Michal Kaznowski (Cello), Luke Strevens (Flute), David Ayre (Double Bass),
Clare Lloyd (), Harpsichord] David Rowland [Choir Director (Organ), Celine Saout (Harp),
Christoper Gillett (), Jonathan Pease (Timpani)
Conductor:  Philip Ledger
Written: 2007 
Venue:  Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge 
Length: 2 Minutes 18 Secs. 
2.
Adam lay y-bounden by Philip Ledger
Performer:  Roxy Summerfield (Organ)
Conductor:  David Rowland
Period: Contemporary 
Venue:  Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge 
Length: 2 Minutes 29 Secs. 
3.
Advent Calendar, for chorus by Philip Ledger
Performer:  Roxy Summerfield (Organ)
Conductor:  David Rowland
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2002 
Venue:  Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge 
Length: 2 Minutes 49 Secs. 
4.
A spotless rose, for chorus by Philip Ledger
Performer:  Roxy Summerfield (Organ)
Conductor:  David Rowland
Written: 2002 
Venue:  Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge 
Length: 1 Minutes 46 Secs. 
5.
Jesus Christ the apple tree, for chorus by Philip Ledger
Performer:  Roxy Summerfield (Organ)
Conductor:  David Rowland
Written: 2005 
Venue:  Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge 
Length: 4 Minutes 24 Secs. 
6.
In the bleak mid-winter, for chorus by Philip Ledger
Performer:  Roxy Summerfield (Organ)
Conductor:  David Rowland
Written: 2007 
Venue:  Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge 
Length: 4 Minutes 44 Secs. 
7.
Lie still and slumber, for chorus by Philip Ledger
Performer:  Roxy Summerfield (Organ)
Conductor:  David Rowland
Written: 2005 
Venue:  Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge 
Length: 7 Minutes 35 Secs. 
8.
Good Christian men, rejoice, for chorus by Philip Ledger
Performer:  Roxy Summerfield (Organ)
Conductor:  David Rowland
Venue:  Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge 
Length: 2 Minutes 1 Secs. 
9.
If ye love me, for chorus by Philip Ledger
Performer:  Roxy Summerfield (Organ)
Conductor:  David Rowland
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2004 
Venue:  Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge 
Length: 2 Minutes 46 Secs. 
10.
Loving Shepherd of the sheep, for chorus by Philip Ledger
Performer:  Roxy Summerfield (Organ)
Conductor:  David Rowland
Written: 1988 
Venue:  Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge 
Length: 2 Minutes 40 Secs. 
11.
Do not stand at my grave and weep, for chorus by Philip Ledger
Performer:  Roxy Summerfield (Organ)
Conductor:  David Rowland
Written: 2008 
Venue:  Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge 
Length: 3 Minutes 1 Secs. 
12.
O Master, let me walk with Thee, for chorus by Philip Ledger
Performer:  Roxy Summerfield (Organ)
Conductor:  David Rowland
Written: 1995 
Venue:  Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge 
Length: 3 Minutes 46 Secs. 
13.
Christ's journey, for chorus by Philip Ledger
Performer:  Roxy Summerfield (Organ)
Conductor:  David Rowland
Written: 2008 
Venue:  Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge 
Length: 1 Minutes 34 Secs. 
14.
This joyful Eastertide, for chorus by Philip Ledger
Performer:  Roxy Summerfield (Organ)
Conductor:  David Rowland
Written: 1994 
Venue:  Chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge 
Length: 3 Minutes 3 Secs. 

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