Great Cathedral Anthems, Volume 11
To conclude its series of Great Cathedral Anthems – a series which, at just 12 discs, merely scratches the surface of the available repertoire – Priory celebrates the work, not of a major church music composer, but of one of the best-known and most highly respected choral directors of our time. And, in taking Sir David Willcocks back to Worcester, where from 1950 to 1957 he was Master of the Choristers, we are also given an opportunity to celebrate the music of one of Britain’s most musically influential cathedrals. Of course the Worcester choir under Willcocks in the 1950s would have been a very different-sounding body from their 21st-century successor, here singing (presumably after only a handful of rehearsals) under an awe-inspiring ‘legend’, and perhaps it is unfair to criticise the occasional raggedness of blend and ensemble while the over-bright boys’ tone seems a world apart from the smooth ‘coo’ which became Willcocks’ hallmark at King’s College, Cambridge. But Willcocks never made recordings with his Worcester Choir and, given the chance to hear such Worcester gems as When I survey by Edgar Day, assistant under Willcocks, and If ye then be risen by Willcocks’ predecessor at Worcester, not to mention rarely heard anthems by the greatest Worcesterian of them all, Elgar, the combination of a legendary choral director, a keen and enthusiastic choir and Adrian Lucas’s resourceful and vivid organ accompaniments, makes this a fitting conclusion to an eminently rewarding series.
The penultimate disc in the series gives British church music aficionados a rare chance to sample American anthems. Few of those included here will be familiar to English ears and only Harold Friedell’s charming