Here is a desert-island disc which is also a disc for the island of the deserted spirit. It is, or could be, a very present help in trouble, a consolation in music and words, based on religious faith, yet I would think open also to those who, knowing beauty and being familiar with the valley of the shadow, still have no religion of their own. Under the general heading of ‘Meditation’, it follows a programme of music from the 16th century to the present day, varied therefore in style, wonderfully unified and compatible in spirit.
The recital also is likely to have a special place in the history of this famous choir. Its release marks the completion of its first year under the direction of David Hill, himself a former organ scholar at the college and subsequently the distinguished choirmaster and organist of the cathedrals at Westminster and Winchester. It’s good to see acknowledgments made to his predecessors, George Guest and Christopher Robinson, to their recordings on Decca and Naxos, and to the contribution of another Cambridge choir-trainer, John Rutter, who is named as recording engineer and producer.
All augurs well. The Elizabethan motets are sung with evident love for the rise and fall of their long-breathed phrases. Jonathan Harvey’s new work is handled imaginatively and owes much to the excellence of its treble soloist, Benjamin Durrant. The prayers of Pastor Bonhoeffer set by Philip Moore, though not new to the catalogue, are newly, and deeply, moving.