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Heavenly Voices / Cleobury, Boys Of King's College Choir


Release Date: 10/05/2004 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 57812   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  César FranckGiuseppe VerdiFelix MendelssohnMaurice Greene,   ... 
Performer:  Tom WinpenneyAshley GroteCorina Belcea
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 3 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A program that features the treble voices of the famed Choir of King's College, Cambridge was an excellent idea: why not give the boys a chance to show what they can do without all those older guys around? After all, there's plenty of great music for upper voices, but it's most often performed these days by mixed children's choirs of girls and boys, or by women's ensembles--hearing a choir of only boys, especially of this caliber, is an event that's growing ever more rare. That said, I wish that the actual choice of works had been a bit more imaginative. There's a decided bias toward the old favorites (Franck's Panis angelicus; Mendelssohn's Lift Thine Eyes; Fauré's Pie Jesu, from his Requiem) and romantic schmaltz (Verdi's Laudi Read more alla Vergine Maria, from Quattro pezzi sacri; the above-mentioned Mendelssohn and the same composer's I waited for the Lord), all of which have been recorded countless times.


Of course, the King's boys do a wonderful job overall, with only an occasional loss of ensemble focus--Patrick Hadley's lovely I sing of a maiden is just not quite rhythmically together, but the singers rescue it with an exquisitely tender final chord. The ensemble and solo work in Fauré's Messe Basse is first-rate, and this very attractive yet relatively rarely performed "low Mass" (it's usually assigned to a filler role on recordings of the composer's infinitely more popular Requiem) is a highlight of the disc. So is the final work, Sigfrid Karg-Elert's strange but affecting Dritte Sinfonische Kanzone, a 10-minute piece that opens with an extended organ solo, somehow adds a violin at just the right moment, then follows with the choir, which pulls everything together in a satisfying conclusion.


Now, the only problem here is that no texts are provided--only very brief descriptions of the works--so all we know about this last, unusual composition is that it's "based upon the intonation of a Gregorian creed." We're also given a tantalizing tidbit regarding the subject of Ireland's Ex ore innocentium--it "sets a poem about Christ's love" and was written for children--but we miss its full meaning without any printed text or translation. Not that there wasn't enough room: the final two pages of the booklet contain a color photograph of the choir and mostly blank space. In situations like this, where information important to a listener's (especially someone new to the repertoire) appreciation for and understanding of the music is left out, I always wonder what the thinking was behind the decision. Is someone at the label assuming that everyone already knows this music so well they don't need the texts? Do they think no one cares about the words? If they do, they're wrong on both counts. After all, this is choral music; it has words, and we do care about them whether we're novices or experienced listeners. [10/22/2004]
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Panis angelicus by César Franck
Performer:  Tom Winpenney (Organ)
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872; France 
Language: Latin 
2.
Quattro pezzi sacri: Laudi alla Vergine Maria by Giuseppe Verdi
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1890; Italy 
Language: Italian 
3.
Elijah, Op. 70: Lift thine eyes to the mountains by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846-1847; Germany 
Language: English 
4.
The Lord is my shepherd by Maurice Greene
Performer:  Tom Winpenney (Organ)
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1743; England 
Language: English 
5.
Requiem, Op. 48: Pie Jesu by Gabriel Fauré
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888 rev 1893; France 
Language: Latin 
6.
Ave Maria in A flat major, Op. 67 no 2 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Tom Winpenney (Organ)
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894-1895; France 
Language: Latin 
7.
Ex ore innocentium by John Ireland
Performer:  Ashley Grote (Organ)
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Language: Latin 
8.
I sing of a maiden by Patrick Hadley
Performer:  Tom Winpenney (Organ)
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1936; England 
Language: English 
9.
Messe basse by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Tom Winpenney (Organ)
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1882/1906; France 
Language: Latin 
10.
Fugue, Canzona and Epilog for Organ, Op. 85 no 3 by Sigfrid Karg-Elert
Performer:  Corina Belcea (Violin), Ashley Grote ()
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Germany 
Language: Latin 
11.
Symphony no 2 in B flat major, Op. 52 "Lobgesang": Ich harrete des Herm by Felix Mendelssohn
Performer:  Ashley Grote (Organ)
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
Language: German 
12.
Psalm 150, M 69 by César Franck
Performer:  Tom Winpenney (Organ)
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884; France 
Language: Latin 
13.
Psalm 23, D 706/Op. 132 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Ashley Grote (Organ)
Conductor:  Stephen Cleobury
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge King's College Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1820; Vienna, Austria 
Language: German 

Sound Samples

Panis angelicus
I waited for the Lord (from Hymn of Praise)
Quattro pezzi sacri: Laudi alla Vergine Maria
Elijah, Op. 70: Lift thine eyes
The Lord is my Shepherd
Requiem Op. 48: Pie Jesu
Alleluia! (from Chouer de Pâques)
Ave Maria Op.67, No.2
Gott ist mein Hirt
Ex ore innocentium
I sing of a maiden
Messe basse: Kyrie eleison
Messe basse: Sanctus
Messe basse: Benedictus
Messe basse: Agnus Dei
Dritte Sinfonische Kanzone (Fuge, Kanzone und Epilog) Op.85, No.3: (Grave)
Dritte Sinfonische Kanzone (Fuge, Kanzone und Epilog) Op.85, No.3: (Doppio movimento)

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