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God Be In My Head - Paul Edwards: Choral Works


Release Date: 03/08/2011 
Label:  Regent   Catalog #: 339   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Paul Edwards
Conductor:  Sarah MacDonald
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Selwyn College Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



EDWARDS Choral music Ian Tindale (org); Sarah MacDonald, cond; Chapel Ch of Selwyn College, Cambridge REGENT REGCD339 (69:07 Text and Translation)


This CD brings together 20 different compositions—sets of Requiem Mass and Evensong service music, hymns, and anthems—by Paul Christison Edwards (b. 1955), an organist, choir director, and music teacher active in the region around Bedford, England. In addition to composing almost 450 works—mostly short pieces of church music for Read more organ and/or choir—he has also edited for publication 10 collections of 18th-century English organ music, recorded several CDs of organ music, and also worked part-time for 25 years as a coach and bus driver. In his notes for the booklet, the composer is winsomely modest about his accomplishments, laying no great claims to originality or significance and frequently citing the influence upon his works of major figures. “I would say that I was a disciple of the school of Delius and Vaughan Williams, with a special admiration for such composers as E. J. Moeran, Peter Warlock, Patrick Hadley, Constant Lambert, and Percy Whitlock. Perhaps most of all, I love the music of John Ireland. However, Henry Purcell would go in my book as the greatest setter of the English language to music of all time, and I also revere the English Tudor composers, especially Tomkins and Gibbons.” He also expresses admiration for the Russian Romantics (particularly Arensky) and also British light music and film music, and says of W. Stanley Vann (1910–2010) that “Probably, as a church composer, his works ... have been the single biggest influence on me.” In contrast to many 20th-century English composers of church music who have been agnostics, Edwards also makes clear that his works spring from a genuine religious conviction, and declares his particular devotion to the King James Bible and Coverdale Psalter.


This collection of short pieces—most are not much more than two minutes long—is what one might term first-rate second-tier occasional church music. That is intended as a compliment, and not a backhanded one, either. Admittedly, there is nothing highly innovative or distinctive here, nor is there any pretense of such; the list above of influencing conservative 20th-century British composers sums up the style quite well. It is, however, uniformly music that is unfailingly well crafted, melodious, effective, and an unalloyed pleasure to hear—and, one is equally sure, to perform. Edwards is obviously a man who is musical to the marrow of his bones—one of those highly skilled regional craftsmen of his art who is indispensable to maintaining high musical standards for venues outside of the major professional ensembles and conservatories that tend to rivet reviewers’ attentions. His compositions are exactly the sort of thing that church choirs of more ordinary means both need and love. They do not make exceptional technical demands, but neither do they condescend by being overly simple. Similarly, Edwards has an acute ear for the right harmonic and melodic effects to bring out the meaning of texts, and does not resort to either academic affectation or saccharine cloyingness. The performances are nicely rendered with evident affection and dedication (there is an astonishingly lovely unnamed solo boy treble voice in track 11); the recorded sound is warm and full. In sum, this disc is a real find—one of those unexpected little joys in life that provides deep satisfaction beyond its seemingly humble initial promise. Let’s hope that more of the same is forthcoming soon; warmly recommended to all lovers of English church music.


FANFARE: James A. Altena

Tracklist:
O joyful light of the heavenly glory
Evening Service in C sharp minor
Great shepherd of thy people
O dear and lovely brother
Hymn: Saviour, who didst healing give
O gladsome light, O grace
Bread of heaven
Behold us, Lord
Hold thou my hands
O dearest Lord, thy sacred head
Blessed are those servants
Come, healing cross
O Lord, how manifold are thy works
Round me falls the night
Come, dearest Lord
Carol of the birds
Requiem Mass
O love that wilt not let me go 'Colkirk'
How shall I sing that majesty

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Works on This Recording

1.
O joyful light of the heavenly glory by Paul Edwards
Conductor:  Sarah MacDonald
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Selwyn College Choir
2.
Evening Service in C sharp minor by Paul Edwards
Conductor:  Sarah MacDonald
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Selwyn College Choir
3.
Great shepherd of thy people by Paul Edwards
Conductor:  Sarah MacDonald
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Selwyn College Choir
4.
O dear and lovely brother by Paul Edwards
Conductor:  Sarah MacDonald
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Selwyn College Choir
5.
Saviour, who didst healing give by Paul Edwards
Conductor:  Sarah MacDonald
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Selwyn College Choir
6.
O gladsome light, O grace by Paul Edwards
Conductor:  Sarah MacDonald
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Selwyn College Choir
7.
Bread of heaven by Paul Edwards
Conductor:  Sarah MacDonald
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Selwyn College Choir

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