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Christmas From Gloucester: See Amid The Winter's Snow


Release Date: 11/25/2008 
Label:  Griffin   Catalog #: 4066   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  TraditionalMichael HeadPatrick HadleyJohn Goss,   ... 
Performer:  Mark Lee
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 58 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

There’s an old saying that you shouldn’t judge a book by its covers and sometimes that applies to CDs too. When I saw the booklet cover of this disc I’m afraid its design and title led me to assume that this would be "just another collection of favourite carols." Well some of the old favourites are there, to be sure, but there’s enough novelty in the programme to spice things up nicely.

When I came to live in Gloucester in 1986 Dr. John Sanders Read more was already long established as Director of Music at the Cathedral – though in those days I think the title was simply Organist – he’d been in post since 1967 (and had been Assistant Organist there between 1956 and 1963.) He served the cathedral with distinction until his retirement in 1994 and though I never knew him personally he was a very popular and highly regarded figure. This disc gives a welcome reminder of the fine work that he did with the cathedral choir.

It also demonstrates his skill as a composer and arranger. His version of Tomorrow shall be my dancing day opens proceedings. It’s a most effective setting, in which the music truly dances, propelled by a strong rhythmic impulse. The melody is a fine one too. The booklet prints eleven verses – as used in Holst’s magnificent setting of the same text – but only the first four are sung here and I’m unsure if this is all Sanders set or whether an abridged version has been recorded. I also liked Carol for Today, which sets a thoughtful text to a good tune. The Sanders arrangement of Whence is that goodly fragrance flowing? is discerning and sympathetic and Blessed be that maid Mary, while it may not break any new ground, is in the best traditions of English choral music.

Among the items that may be less familiar Michael Head’s The Three Mummers is most enjoyable. This little piece demonstrates Head’s characteristic melodic felicity and his empathy for words. Peter Aston’s There is no rose is an atmospheric piece which goes off into some unexpected and interesting harmonic directions. The same description might be applied fairly to Leighton’s Hymn of the Nativity, which is the most complex piece in the programme, and a very fine one. The unnamed treble soloist has a demanding part to sing and he delivers it with distinction and, indeed, the whole choir does this difficult piece very well. No such recital from Gloucester Cathedral would be complete without some Howells and I’m delighted that the lovely Sing lullaby has been chosen rather than the ubiquitous A Spotless Rose, much though I love the latter piece. Sanders’ choir sings Sing lullaby with evident dedication.

The tried and trusted items give pleasure too. The arrangement of Silent Night is by Mark Blatchly, who was, I believe, Mark Lee’s immediate predecessor as Sanders’ assistant. It’s a skilful arrangement though I’ve never quite understood why, after setting the first two verses in English, he switches to German for the last stanza – and it’s printed in English in the booklet. O little town of Bethlehem finds a deserved place, too, but it’s nice to find Walford Davies’ lovely tune is employed for a change – another excellent treble solo in verse three, by the way. And to complete the roster of treble solos, there’s a fine example at the start of Once in royal David`s City, which Sanders takes at a nice flowing tempo.

But for all the excellent settings on this programme, nobody does it better than Bach. His harmonisation of the old German tune, known to us in English translation as O little one sweet, is a gem and it’s beautifully performed here.

Throughout the recital the singing of the choir gives a good deal of pleasure. The blend isn’t always perfectly homogenous – some male voices stand out at times – but this is by no means a major issue and the quality of the singing is a fine tribute to the skill of John Sanders as a choral trainer. Mark Lee, who was at that time the cathedral’s assistant organist, contributes some excellent accompaniments. The acoustic of Gloucester Cathedral is a very reverberant one but the engineers have done a good job. Both choir and organ are well reported and the acoustic adds to the ambience.

This very good recital of seasonal music is most enjoyable. Happy Christmas from Gloucester!

-- John Quinn, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day (English) by Traditional
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1833; England 
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Venue:  Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, Englan 
Length: 2 Minutes 21 Secs. 
2.
The Three Mummers by Michael Head
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Venue:  Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, Englan 
Length: 3 Minutes 58 Secs. 
3.
Ding Dong! Merrily on high by Traditional
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: 16th Century; France 
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Venue:  Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, Englan 
Length: 1 Minutes 56 Secs. 
4.
I sing of a maiden by Patrick Hadley
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1936; England 
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Venue:  Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, Englan 
Length: 2 Minutes 26 Secs. 
5.
See amid the winter's snow by John Goss
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 19th Century; England 
6.
There Is No Rose of Such Virtue (English) by Traditional
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Period: Medieval 
Written: 1420; England 
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Venue:  Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, Englan 
Length: 2 Minutes 57 Secs. 
7.
Whence Is That Goodley Fragrance? by Oxley
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Period: Modern 
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Venue:  Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, Englan 
Length: 3 Minutes 34 Secs. 
8.
The Lamb "Little Lamb, who made thee?" by John Tavener
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1982; England 
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Venue:  Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, Englan 
Length: 2 Minutes 49 Secs. 
9.
A Carol of Praise, for chorus & organ (arrangement of a Kenyan folk tune) by Graham Hyslop
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Venue:  Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, Englan 
Length: 2 Minutes 17 Secs. 
10.
Blessed Be That Maid Marie (English) by Traditional
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Venue:  Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, Englan 
Length: 2 Minutes 33 Secs. 
11.
As I Outrode This Enderes Night, for choir by Gerald Hendrie
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Venue:  Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, Englan 
Length: 1 Minutes 38 Secs. 
12.
Carol-Anthems (3) for Chorus: no 3, Sing lullaby by Herbert Howells
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918-1920; England 
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Venue:  Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, Englan 
Length: 3 Minutes 33 Secs. 
13.
Carol for Today, for chorus & organ by John Sanders
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Venue:  Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, Englan 
Length: 2 Minutes 12 Secs. 
14.
O little one sweet by Traditional
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Venue:  Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, Englan 
Length: 2 Minutes 56 Secs. 
15.
Hymn of the Nativity by Kenneth Leighton
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960; England 
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Venue:  Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, Englan 
Length: 6 Minutes 42 Secs. 
16.
A New Year carol, for chorus by John Ireland
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Period: Modern 
Written: 1941 
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Venue:  Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, Englan 
Length: 1 Minutes 12 Secs. 
17.
Once in Royal David's City by Henry John Gauntlett
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 19th Century; England 
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Venue:  Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, Englan 
Length: 2 Minutes 6 Secs. 
18.
O little town of Bethlehem by Henry Walford Davies
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Venue:  Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, Englan 
Length: 3 Minutes 6 Secs. 
19.
Silent Night by Franz Xaver Gruber
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Period: Classical 
Written: 1818; Austria 
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Venue:  Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, Englan 
Length: 3 Minutes 6 Secs. 
20.
It came upon the midnight clear by Richard Storrs Willis
Performer:  Mark Lee (Organ)
Conductor:  John Sanders
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gloucester Cathedral Choir
Period: Romantic 
Date of Recording: 01/1991 
Venue:  Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, Englan 
Length: 2 Minutes 19 Secs. 

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