Treasures of Christ Church

Music with deep links to its Oxford college performers

Author: 
Christopher Nickol
Treasures of Christ Church

Treasures of Christ Church

  • (A) Shepherd's Carol
  • O Lord make thy servant
  • Jacob's Ladder
  • Great Lord of Lords
  • Veni, Sancte Spiritus
  • My breath lies quiet
  • Coronation Anthems, Zadok the Priest, HWV258
  • Like as the hart
  • Ave Maria
  • O God, thou art my God
  • Canticle of the Heavenly City
  • Salvator Mundi
  • (The) Lord's Prayer
  • Christe Jesu, pastor bone
  • Set me as a seal upon thine heart
  • Bethlehem Down
  • Hosanna to the Son of David

Every composition on this disc has a strong connection with Christ Church, Oxford, and the programme includes works by directors of music (Darlington, Grier and Taverner), college undergraduates (WH Auden and Walton) plus newly commissioned works from Goodall, Rutter and Tavener. Other pieces exist in manuscript copies housed in the college library, including Handel’s own organ arrangement of the accompaniment to Zadok the Priest. The disc is a veritable treasure trove of music in varied styles together with sacred texts and 20th-century poems.

Thanks to numerous LPs and CDs, the wonderful singing of the Christ Church Cathedral Choir can be regarded as another treasure, and on this latest recording they give consistently outstanding performances under the committed direction of Stephen Darlington. The lower adult voices have as much dynamic strength and colour as the trebles, resulting in satisfying polyphonic textures in the early music and sonorous chordal harmonies in the more recent compositions. The overall sound of the choir has an unforced elegance with a seamless legato; a delight to listen to. Excellent solo singers contribute to the works by Britten, Darlington, Gibbons, Purcell and Rutter, and the cathedral’s sub‑organist Clive Driskill-Smith gives stylish and sympathetic accompaniments in the pieces by Gibbons, Grier, Handel, Howells and Purcell. Flautists Claire Wickes and Alex Leese plus harpist Rachel Wick provide a beautiful accompaniment in Rutter’s lovely
Canticle of the Heavenly City– one of his finest and most moving compositions.

A very enjoyable CD, thanks to the rewarding choice of music and the magnificent performances of all the singers and instrumentalists; a recording to treasure.

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