Vann makes the best possible case for this sentimental ikon.
It now has a jaded reputation but Stainer’s
Crucifixion had many years of popularity. Modest church choirs and amateur tenors and basses in parish churches and cathedrals across the worldwide Anglican communion welcomed it. The work shared the limelight with other sentimental lachrymose Victoriana such as
Olivet to Calvary by John Henry Maunder (1858-1920). Indeed those two works are in harness on a 2 CD set on Classics for Pleasure CFP 5757792. It features Frederick Harvey (baritone), John Lawrenson (baritone), Terence Clifford (baritone), Philip Mindenhall (bass), Peter Morse (organ) and the Choir of Guildford Cathedral conducted by BarryRead more Rose.
The Crucifixion still rates the occasional performance although as churches close and are rationalised one can see even that sure stronghold falling away. The Maunder was performed earlier this year (2009) in Chester, Havant and Halifax and the Stainer in Reading, Stroud, Yeovil, Shipley and Bolton. Allowing for its hold on a certain generation’s affections and religious beliefs it still has some currency and this recording answers the need for familiarisation for choir members and soloists planning a performance and as a musical experience in its own right.
Griffett and George are distinguished and intelligent singers. They make a very pleasing sound -probably better than the work has enjoyed in the majority of its recent performances. There is a forthright honest analogue hiss about the Regis recording but since the intrinsic sound is pleasing one can soon banish this from awareness. Hymns by Stainer are interspersed among the segments of the main work. All in all it’s a beautiful performance and was superbly prepared by Vann. In terms of musical interest it is thin gruel but these forces make the best of it.
W. Stanley Vann was born in Leicester in 1910. He held organist posts in cathedrals and parish churches and founded the Warwickshire Symphony Orchestra. He saw war service 1942-45. He wrote much choral music including a
Billingshurst Mass, a concert mass for soprano and baritone solo, full chorus and orchestra.
The Stainer work is accorded a typically fine note from James Murray - a regular for Regis and its sub-labels. There are no texts provided but then again they are not needed. You can hear every word whether from soloists or full choir.
Andrew Newberry (Organ),
James Griffett (Tenor),
Michael George (Bass)
Peterborough Cathedral Choir
Period: Romantic Written: 1887; England Language: Latin