Sacred Choral Works
Venetian and Roman music in its heyday! This anthology is full of gems and shows the richness of the two traditions. One's impression of the Romans is of dignified, glowing music, suitable, as John Whenham's sleeve-note reminds us, for the vast spaces of St Peter's. The Venetian music is more worldly, more based on secular models, with crisp rhythms and vivid harmonies which would come off well in the smaller surroundings of St Mark's. Indeed, it comes as quite a shock to hear Lotti's chromatic Crucifixus among the resonant clarity of harmony of Palestrina's motets.
The choir of Westminster Cathedral sounds much more brilliant than the college choirs which usually record such music. The boys (like those of St John's, Cambridge) have a distinctive cutting edge and the vowel sounds are less polite than those of the universities—which imparts a greater emotional thrust. The boy soloists, alas, cannot quite manage that ethereal quality which King's managed during the Willcocks era in the Allegri Miserere (Argo ZRG5365, 2/64), the ornaments are not performed so neatly, nor are the high notes so bell-like. Nonetheless, this is a thrilling record, given resonance by being made in Westminster Cathedral itself, yet quite clear in sound.'