ENGLISH CHORAL MUSIC OF THE 20TH CENTURY • Stephen Darlington, cond; Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford • REGIS RRC 1323 (71: 33)
W. H. HARRIS Love of Love, Light of Light. Holy Is the True Light. HOWELLS My Eyes for Beauty Pine. LEY Prayer of King Henry VI. LEIGHTON Solus ad victimam. Read more class="COMPOSER12">RUTTER God Be in My Head. STANFORD Pray That Jerusalem. TIPPETT Dance, Clarion Air. The Weeping Babe. Plebs Angelica. Bonny at Morn. A Child of Our Time: 5 Negro Spirituals. VAUGHAN WILLIAMS O Clap Your Hands. 3 Shakespearean Songs. The Old Hundredth Psalm Tune. WALTON A Litany. Set Me as a Seal Upon Thy Heart. Jubilate Deo. C. WOOD O Thou, the Central Orb
Here is yet another Regis sampler reissue of choral works from the Nimbus catalog. The nine Tippett selections stem from NI 5266; Vaughan Williams’s O Clap Your Hands and The Old Hundreth Psalm Tune from NI 5166, and the Three Shakespearean Songs from NI 5083; the Harris, Howells, Leighton, Rutter, Stanford, and Wood pieces from NI 5440; Ley’s Prayer and Walton’s A Litany from NI 5328; and the other Walton works from NI 5364. Most of the Tippett, Vaughan Williams, and Walton items later appeared in a five-CD compilation of British choral music, NI 5691. The works presented here are from the tonally conservative and melodious side of the 20th-century spectrum, the exceptions being the harmonically more adventurous Walton and the quirkily dissonant Tippett. The Leighton has an unaccredited recorder ensemble for accompaniment. All the selections are expertly sung; however, this compilation is perhaps slightly less attractive than others I have reviewed in this issue, since most collectors of British choral music are likely to have the Walton, Tippett, and Vaughan Williams items in their collections already. It would have been more useful to feature fewer works from this trio, and include instead pieces by other composers not represented here. Still, at the budget price this is a minor complaint. The booklet, as usual for Regis, provides brief notes on the composers but no texts; the sound is typical of the Nimbus label in its spaciousness, though noticeably less reverberant in some pieces than in others. Recommended for those seeking to dip their toes painlessly into the shallow end of the contemporary English choral pool.