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G. Ives: Listen, Sweet Dove / Bill Ives, Et Al


Release Date: 04/11/2006 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 907420   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Bill Grayston Ives
Conductor:  Bill Grayston Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews


Church musicians, especially of the Anglican/Episcopal persuasion, should be happy that there's at least one person out there writing first-rate, functional, and very accessible (in the best sense) anthems and service music--music that dedicated, competent choirs and organists can perform to a high standard.

Some listeners may recognize Grayston Ives (nom de plume of Bill Ives) for his years (in the 1980s) with the King's Singers where he both sang and contributed as an arranger. Perhaps his experiences with paying audiences and his long involvement with church music and its practical necessities have shaped his approach to his own writing (he's now organist, "Informator
Read more Choristarum", and Tutor in Music at Magdalen College), for what we have here is a collection of works that, although varied in difficulty, always express their sentiment clearly and with an ear toward memorable melody and richly-colored harmony--consummately singable and easily listenable.


In previous decades, this could have described John Rutter's style, except that Ives is more consciously and intentionally attuned to church music tradition and he is quite adept at giving his music a modern cast without incorporating the pop-music conventions--well managed and ingratiating as they are--that characterize much of Rutter's work. Here, Ives hands us everything from the endearingly Stanford-esque (including the text) There is a land of pure delight, to the more extended and vocally challenging "dramatic scena" Lord, is it I?, a work commissioned for the dedication of a copy of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper" to Magdalen College. We also hear the beautiful Ego sum panis vivus for male voices and the equally lovely In pace.


The title piece, Listen sweet dove, is a gem, a perfectly rendered setting of a George Herbert poem with a captivating melody and overall harmonic/developmental structure worthy of the best Vaughan Williams hymn-anthem arrangement. But the highlight here is the Missa brevis (1987), a work that deserves inclusion in the repertoire of every church choir that ever sings a Mass. Inventive, tuneful, harmonically vibrant, textually illuminating, and (very importantly) short, and with a terrific organ accompaniment, this is one of the finest works of its kind, from any century. (If I had a church choir I'd be calling Oxford University Press right now for copies!)


Needless to say, Ives' Magdalen College choir sings with appropriate sensitivity and fervent spirit, with full and fluent mastery of each work. The sound, from the Magdalen College Chapel, is ideal, and the enlightening annotations by the composer are a nice bonus. Church music lovers should not miss this. [3/29/2006]
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
There is a land of pure delight by Bill Grayston Ives
Conductor:  Bill Grayston Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: 20th Century 
2.
Ego sumo panis vivus by Bill Grayston Ives
Conductor:  Bill Grayston Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: 20th Century 
3.
In pace by Bill Grayston Ives
Conductor:  Bill Grayston Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: 20th Century 
4.
Lord, is it I? by Bill Grayston Ives
Conductor:  Bill Grayston Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: 20th Century 
5.
A Song of Divine Love by Bill Grayston Ives
Conductor:  Bill Grayston Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: 20th Century 
6.
Lullaby by Bill Grayston Ives
Conductor:  Bill Grayston Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: 20th Century 
7.
Missa brevis by Bill Grayston Ives
Conductor:  Bill Grayston Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: 20th Century 
8.
The Eddington Service by Bill Grayston Ives
Conductor:  Bill Grayston Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Magdalen College Choir Oxford
Period: 20th Century 

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