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Quam Dilecta: French Romantic Choral Music / Rowland, Choir Of Christ's College, Cambridge

Saint-saens / Choir Of Christ's College / Rowland
Release Date: 01/08/2013 
Label:  Regent   Catalog #: 375   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Camille Saint-SaënsDéodat de SévéracGabriel FauréVincent D'Indy
Performer:  Alex GreavesRobert StiffWilliam WadsworthAmy Puttick,   ... 
Conductor:  David Rowland
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A stunning release.

The school of French sacred choral music is where unerring elegance and appealing melodic invention meet pious veneration. Titled Quam dilecta ( How lovely) this collection of 21 small-scale Latin pieces for devotional use in the Roman Catholic liturgy certainly fits that description.
 
This Regent project is sung by the Choir of Christ’s College, Cambridge, founded in 1437. Now a mixed student choir on this recording they number 10 sopranos, 7 altos, 5 tenors and 7 basses. This is their typical size.
 
In accordance with the liturgical trend of the time many of the scores are written in veneration of the Virgin Mary. It is surprising
Read more how many connections there are between the four French composers Camille Saint-Saëns, Vincent d’Indy, Gabriel Fauré and Déodat de Sévérac; all were Paris-based for varying lengths of time.
 
Saint-Saëns and Fauré are undoubtedly the best known of the four. A prolific composer Saint-Saëns was very active in the field of sacred works. Of his larger scale sacred choral works the most noteworthy are the Messe Solennelle for four solo voices, chorus, orchestra and organ, op. 4 (1855/56), the Oratorio de Noël for soloists, chorus, quartet of strings, harp and organ, op. 12 (1858) and the Requiem Mass for soloists, chorus and orchestra, op. 54 (1878).The latter is an especially underrated work that deserves to be heard far more often. There is also the Psalm 18, Coeli enarrant for soloists, chorus and orchestra, op. 42 (1865) and the Psalm 150, Praise ye the Lord for double-chorus of mixed voices, orchestra and organ, op. 127 (c. 1908) - works I have yet to hear. Saint-Saëns wrote duplicate settings of several smaller sacred works such as the O salutaris, Ave maria, Veni Creator and Tangum ergo. On this release Saint-Saëns is represented by five of the smaller settings of which the pick is Quam dilecta for choir and organ, op. 148 (1915). This is a tender and affecting motet with a sensitively written and atmospheric organ part. Incidentally Saint-Saëns himself was an organist of great repute having been organist for twenty years at L'église de la Madeleine, Paris. The haunting Ave Maria for choir and organ, op. 145 (1914) is beautiful in its devotion to the Virgin Mary. For unaccompanied choir, the neo-Renaissance Ave verum corpus in E flat major has a stark beauty. I also greatly enjoyed the enchanting Ave verum corpus, a D major setting for female choir and organ.
 
A pupil of Saint-Saëns, Gabriel Fauré followed his teacher’s lead and wrote a considerable number of sacred choral scores. The most famous of these by far is the renowned Messe de Requiem, op. 48 (1887-1900) one the most performed and recorded sacred scores. Also occasionally encountered is the Cantique de Jean Racine, op. 11 (1863-65) and the Messe Basse (1888-1907). Fauré is represented by settings on this release. I especially enjoyed the O salutaris hostia, op. 47/1 sung with yearning reverence by the soprano chorus with organ accompaniment. There’s also a highly attractive short Maria, Mater gratiae, op. 47/2 (1888) movingly delivered by soprano Marie Lemaire and alto Hetty Boardman-Weston with organ accompaniment. The women’s choir with organ piece, Ave verum corpus, op. 65/1 (1894) is a gracious devotion to the Virgin Mary. It’s rather an anonymous and unmemorable piece. By contrast the Tantum ergo, op. 65/2 (1894) scored for two sopranos and an alto with organ sung by Rachel Thomas, Carys Brown and Hetty Boardman-Weston is well worth hearing. I was also mightily impressed by the two pieces for solo soprano with organ (1894-95): the Salve Regina, op. 67/1 and the Ave Maria, op. 67/2 which Rachel Thomas sings with an exquisitely chaste tone.
 
Allowing for the distinguished Chandos orchestral series Vincent d’Indy’s wonderful Romantic music is rarely encountered today. An associate of Saint-Saëns, d’Indy was founder member and director of the Schola Cantorum de Paris, an organisation that nurtured a revival of interest in Gregorian chant and music of the Italian Renaissance in the style of Palestrina. D’Indy is represented here by four motets. Of particular note is the Ave Regina coelorum with its chromatic part-writing for unaccompanied voices, op. 79 (1922). It is given an intensely satisfying performance. The Deus Israel conjungat vos for 4/6 parts, op. 41 (1896) is a substantial score at over 6 minutes and is cast in two sections. The complex writing is well served by the assured soloists.

Déodat de Sévérac studied under d’Indy and Magnard in Paris at the Schola Cantorum. Only a small number of Sévérac’s sacred choral works have survived and four of them appear here. I especially enjoyed the lightly chromatic motet Ave verum corpus (1898) for two soprano soloists with organ. This is sung with radiant devotional expression by Amy Puttick and Carys Brown. Written in a relatively simple style I found the late motet Tantum ergo (1920) for unaccompanied choir spiritually comforting throughout.
 
Clearly relishing this programme the choir, scrupulously prepared under the direction of Professor David Rowland is in inspiring voice. Their impressive vocal sonority, reverence and unity produce cascades of attractive sound. All of this is coupled with pin-point precision. Organist Roxy Summerfield, a Cambridge University graduate, plays with real credit throughout. The recording was made in March 2011 a short distance from their own chapel at Jesus College which I am informed is a much quieter location. Crystal clear and well balanced sound can be enjoyed in this satisfying church acoustic. In all respects this Regent release is nothing short of stunning.
 
-- Michael Cookson, MusicWeb International

Track Listing:

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Quam dilecta, op. 148 (1915) [4:43]
Ave Maria, op. 145 (1914) [3:30]
Ave verum corpus [4:57)
Offertoire (1904) [4:47]
Ave verum corpus [5:52]
Déodat De SÉVÉRAC (1872-1921)
O sacrum convivial [4:00]
Ave verum corpus (1898) [2:57]
Tantum ergo (1920) (2:33]
Salve Regina [2:53]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Tantum ergo (1904) [2:12]
Tantum ergo, op. 65/2 (1894) [2:54]
O salutaris hostia, op. 47/1 [2:52]
Ave Maria, op. 67/2 (1894-95) [2:17]
Salve Regina, op. 67/1 (1894-95) [2:40]
Maria, Mater gratiae, op. 47/2 (1888) [2:13]
Ecce fidelis servus, op. 54 [1:37]
Ave verum corpus, op. 65/1 (1894) [3:14]
Vincent d’INDY (1851-1931)
Ave Regina coelorum, op. 79 (1922) [2:09]
O Domina mea, op. 88 [3:00]
Sancta Maria, succurre miseris, op. 49 [1:39]
Deus Israel conjungat vos, op. 41 (1896) [6:08]
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Quam dilecta, Op. 148 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Conductor:  David Rowland
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1915; France 
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 4 Minutes 45 Secs. 
2.
Ave Maria for Chorus and Organ, Op. 145 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Conductor:  David Rowland
Period: Romantic 
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 29 Secs. 
3.
Ave verum, motet for 4 female voices, organ & horn in D major by Camille Saint-Saëns
Conductor:  David Rowland
Period: Romantic 
Written: France 
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 4 Minutes 56 Secs. 
4.
O sacrum convivium, for soloists & chorus by Déodat de Sévérac
Performer:  Alex Greaves (), Robert Stiff (), William Wadsworth (),
Amy Puttick (), William Wallace (), Carys Brown ()
Conductor:  David Rowland
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 4 Minutes 0 Secs. 
5.
Ave verum corpus, for 2 sopranos & chorus by Déodat de Sévérac
Performer:  Carys Brown (), Amy Puttick ()
Conductor:  David Rowland
Written: 1898 
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 0 Secs. 
6.
Tantum ergo, for soprano, chorus & organ in F major by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Amy Puttick ()
Conductor:  David Rowland
Period: Romantic 
Written: 11/14/1904 
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 10 Secs. 
7.
Offertoire pour la Toussaint, motet for chorus, organ & instruments in F major by Camille Saint-Saëns
Conductor:  David Rowland
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904 
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 4 Minutes 47 Secs. 
8.
Tantum ergo by Déodat de Sévérac
Conductor:  David Rowland
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1920; France 
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 32 Secs. 
9.
Ave regina coelorum, for chorus, Op. 79 by Vincent D'Indy
Conductor:  David Rowland
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 8 Secs. 
10.
Salve regina, for chorus by Déodat de Sévérac
Conductor:  David Rowland
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 53 Secs. 
11.
Ave verum, motet for SATB & organ in E flat major by Camille Saint-Saëns
Conductor:  David Rowland
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1860 
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 5 Minutes 52 Secs. 
12.
O Domina mea, for chorus, Op. 88 by Vincent D'Indy
Conductor:  David Rowland
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 59 Secs. 
13.
Tantum Ergo in E major, Op. 65 no 2 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Carys Brown (), Rachel Thomas ()
Conductor:  David Rowland
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; France 
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 54 Secs. 
14.
O salutaris, Op. 47 no 1 by Gabriel Fauré
Conductor:  David Rowland
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878-1887; France 
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 53 Secs. 
15.
Ave Maria in A flat major, Op. 67 no 2 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Rachel Thomas ()
Conductor:  David Rowland
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894-1895; France 
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 17 Secs. 
16.
Salve Regina, Op. 67 no 1 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Rachel Thomas ()
Conductor:  David Rowland
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1895; France 
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 39 Secs. 
17.
Maria Mater gratiae, Op. 47 no 2 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Marie Lemaire ()
Conductor:  David Rowland
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; France 
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 2 Minutes 12 Secs. 
18.
Sancta Maria, succurre miseris, for chorus, Op. 49 by Vincent D'Indy
Performer:  Marie Lemaire ()
Conductor:  David Rowland
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 38 Secs. 
19.
Deus Israel conjungat vos, for chorus, op. 41 by Vincent D'Indy
Conductor:  David Rowland
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 6 Minutes 7 Secs. 
20.
Ecce fidelis servus, Op. 54 by Gabriel Fauré
Conductor:  David Rowland
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; France 
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 37 Secs. 
21.
Ave Verum, Op. 65 no 1 by Gabriel Fauré
Conductor:  David Rowland
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; France 
Venue:  Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 13 Secs. 

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