Passiontide at St Paul's

Author: 
Guest

Passiontide at St Paul's

  • Hear us, O Lord
  • Call to remembrance, O Lord
  • Symphony No. 2, 'Hymn of Praise', Ich harrete des Herrn (I waited for the Lord)
  • (The) Lamentation
  • (The) Reproaches
  • Ecce lignum Crucis
  • Christus factus est
  • Drop, drop slow tears
  • Crucifixus a 8
  • This joyful Easter-tide
  • When Israel came out of Egypt
  • Ecce vicit Leo
  • Te Deum

Among the attractions of this recital is the singing of the four treble soloists, especially that of Connor Burrowes, who is heard twice in the Lenten section and then finally in Britten’s Te Deum where the precision and clarity of his tone are ideal. In “I waited for the Lord” he is matched with uncanny exactness by Edmond Hill: altogether a delightful performance. I don’t know whether anyone has made a survey of boys’ voices on record (starting – or perhaps there are predecessors? – with Ernest Lough and John Bonner), but these two will deserve a place.
The choir itself sings magnificently, not least in quite simple things such as Gibbons’s hymn tune for Drop, drop slow tears. The ordering of the programme into three sections for Lent, Passiontide and Easter, becomes something of a liability because (in musical terms) it involves consecutive slow movements. In particular, John Sanders’s Reproaches are slightly weakened by following on after Bairstow’s Lamentation, and Brian Chapple’s Ecce lignum Crucis has to contend with both. It is probably better, in playing the record, to take those three works separately. On the other hand, after so much penitential music This joyful Eastertide comes with additional pleasure in the freshness, both of the tune itself and of Charles Wood’s harmonies. Bairstow’s through-composed chant for In exitu Israel is effective too, especially in its culminating fortissimo.
In all of this the St Paul’s echo is an inescapable presence, but to the credit of all concerned, it does not dull the clarity. In fact, with Britten’s Te Deum we become aware, perhaps more sharply than ever, of the work’s purposeful construction, its assured mastery marking the coming-of-age of the 21-year-old composer.'

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