Notes and Editorial Reviews
GREAT BRITISH CHORAL WORKS
Harry Christophers, cond; The Sixteen
CORO COR 16092 (77:57)
HANDEL, BYRD, MacMILLAN, TALLIS, TAVENER, CORNYSH, CARVER, PURCELL, BRITTEN, TIPPETT, SHEPPARD
It is hard to realize that The Sixteen has been in business for 35 years come 2012. Ten years ago, Harry Christophers got the interesting idea of acquiring the rights to older recordings of the group and forming Coro, a company to reissue them and to issue new recordings by the chorus. Since then, they have also begun distributing recordings by the Hilliard Ensemble as well as other material.
The disc at hand is a compilation from earlier recordings with no particular theme. If several of these composers would never have thought of themselves as British, and if not everything here is choral, it’s all great. There is nothing here that is rare, save possibly three 16th-century pieces: a William Cornysh
, Robert Carver’s “Benedictus” from a Mass, and the excerpt from John Sheppard’s large Passion anthem sequence
Media vita in morte sumus
Laudibus in sanctis
is well known.
This collection is well sung, as is to be expected from this group, and the program is attractively arranged, beginning, “middling,” and ending with Handel—the second Coronation anthem,
My Heart Is Inditing
; “Tune Your Harps” from
(elegantly sung by Mark Padmore); and the last two movements of
. There are two songs from Purcell’s
, sung by Michael Chance and Michael George; Britten’s
Hymn to St. Cecilia
; one of the spirituals, “Nobody Knows,” from Tippett’s
A Child of Our Time
; Tallis’s 40-voice motet,
Spem in alium
(perhaps the least interesting performance on the disc); and two modern pieces by James MacMillan,
A Child’s Prayer
sung by Kirsty Hopkins and Grace Davidson, and
A New Song.
Though this disc is something of an advertisement for available wares, it is nonetheless pleasant listening. There is no mention of the orchestras used or of the choral singers, and no texts are supplied. One must be on guard, too, as the recording ambiences, and therefore volumes, differ from track to track.
FANFARE: Alan Swanson