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A Cappella II / Hancock, St. Thomas Choir of Men & Boys


Release Date: 10/07/2003 
Label:  Koch International Classics Catalog #: 7490   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Leo SowerbyChristian I. LatrobeHoratio ParkerJack Herman Ossewaarde,   ... 
Performer:  Gerre HancockJudith Hancock
Conductor:  Gerre Hancock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Thomas Men and Boy's Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Although I didn't have the pleasure of hearing "A Cappella I", I know this excellent choir first-hand, hearing it live at its home-base, New York's Saint Thomas Church, and reviewing several of its previous CD releases, including a fine Britten Rejoice in the Lamb and a Vaughan Williams Mass in G minor as well as a collection of hymns and Anglican psalm-settings (for the latter, type Q3364 in Search Reviews). The point is, this new disc, featuring a variety of sacred works by 20th-century composers and arrangers, fully measures up to this revered choir's reputation for first-rate singing and for being what can only be described as America's finest English cathedral choir. Everything from the bright, prominent treble tone to the Read more enunciation and inflection--even the choir's vestments--comes from the long-established Anglican tradition, and under the careful tutelage of director Gerre Hancock these choristers have nothing to apologize for, either in technique or in musicianly command of the repertoire.


The repertoire includes several traditional favorites--Stanford's Latin motets, for example--along with works closely associated with Saint Thomas, including choir-member Anthony Piccolo's beautiful anthem Heaven and Heart, T. Tertius Noble's Go to Dark Gethsemane, and Hancock's own arrangement of the Spiritual Deep River. Along the way we encounter the intensely overwrought and way-too-long Magnificat by Alan Gray and the tedious-and-fussy Vox dicentis by Edward Naylor. Stanford's gorgeous but extremely tricky motets provide many moments of listening pleasure but also reveal their challenges as the choir trebles struggle with intonational control in several places, especially in the somewhat cumbersome and awkwardly written eight-part Coelos ascendit hodie (no choir sings this piece well) and in the opening and closing bars of Beati quorum via.


Highlights include Horatio Parker's heart-felt setting of the prayer Grant, we beseech thee, the above-mentioned Piccolo piece, and Hancock's harmonically inventive Deep River. And while it may be sacrilege to say so when discussing a choral recording, Judith Hancock's solo organ performance of Alexandre Guilmant's brilliant masterpiece Choral et Fugue from Cinqième Sonate en Ut mineur Op. 80 is nothing short of breathtaking--and is reason enough to own this disc. The recording favors the treble end of the spectrum, which is largely a function of the choir's makeup and focus, and there are some rough (or simply annoying) edges among the predominantly smooth, polished performances (rhythmic imprecision in Dawson's Ain'-a that good news, for example, and the choir's affected, extended "n" sound on final "Amens"). However, this is a generally solid, indisputably ambitious, and prodigiously interesting program that choral music lovers will definitely want to investigate.
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Eternal Light by Leo Sowerby
Conductor:  Gerre Hancock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Thomas Men and Boy's Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1958; USA 
2. Go to dark Gethsemane by Christian I. Latrobe
Conductor:  Gerre Hancock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Thomas Men and Boy's Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: England 
3. Grant, we beseech thee by Horatio Parker
Conductor:  Gerre Hancock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Thomas Men and Boy's Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: USA 
4. Draw us in the Spirit's Tether by Jack Herman Ossewaarde
Conductor:  Gerre Hancock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Thomas Men and Boy's Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
5. Vox dicentis clama by Edward Naylor
Conductor:  Gerre Hancock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Thomas Men and Boy's Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; England 
6. Chorale Prelude and Fugue for Organ, WoO 7 "O Traurigkeit" by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Gerre Hancock (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1858; Germany 
7. Sonata for Organ no 5 in C minor, Op. 80 by Felix Alexandre Guilmant
Performer:  Judith Hancock (Organ), Gerre Hancock (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; France 
8. Deep river by Traditional
Conductor:  Gerre Hancock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Thomas Men and Boy's Choir
Written: USA 
Notes: Arranged: Gerre Hancock 
9. Ain't that good news by Traditional
Conductor:  Gerre Hancock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Thomas Men and Boy's Choir
Written: USA 
Notes: Arranged: William L. Dawson 
10. Ezekiel saw the wheel by Traditional
Conductor:  Gerre Hancock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Thomas Men and Boy's Choir
Written: USA 
Notes: Arranged: William L. Dawson 
11. Tis the day of resurrection by Charles Wood
Conductor:  Gerre Hancock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Thomas Men and Boy's Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: England 
12. Coelis ascendit hodie by Charles Villiers Stanford
Conductor:  Gerre Hancock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Thomas Men and Boy's Choir
Period: Romantic 
13. Beati quorum via by Charles Villiers Stanford
Conductor:  Gerre Hancock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Thomas Men and Boy's Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: England 
14. Nunc Dimittis by Charles Wood
Conductor:  Gerre Hancock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Thomas Men and Boy's Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912; England 
15. Motets (3), Op. 38: no 1, Justorum animae by Charles Villiers Stanford
Conductor:  Gerre Hancock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Thomas Men and Boy's Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1905; England 
16. Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in F minor by Gray,
Conductor:  Gerre Hancock
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Thomas Men and Boy's Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 

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