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Cat. No. CHSA 5085 Price: 11.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHSA 5085 - Hear My Words: Choral Classics from St John's
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Available From: 15 October 2010
Hear My Words: Choral Classics from St John's

As exclusive Chandos artists, the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge here presents its second release. The first CD, of choral music by Howells (CHAN 10587), was released to rave reviews in March this year. Choir and Organ wrote: ‘There is musicianship here of a rare and moving kind.’ This new release of popular choral classics should meet with a similar reception while at the same time appealing to a wider audience.

Established in the 1670s, the Choir of St John’s has a distinguished tradition of performing religious music. Its main duty is singing the daily services in the College Chapel during the University Term. During the University vacation the Choir carries out engagements in the UK and overseas, as well as undertaking a busy recording schedule. This particular release was recorded in the College Chapel in full surround-sound. The disc not only sounds spectacular, but recreates to an uncanny degree the experience of listening to the Choir perform in the chapel. The music itself represents a time span of nearly 500 years of choral music. The earliest piece dates from the first half of the sixteenth century, and the newest was composed as recently as 2007. The styles and genres are varied, but there are clear links between the works throughout. For example, several are based on texts from the psalms, and the works by Pärt, Parsons, and Rachmaninoff offer three radically different interpretations of the Ave Maria. Some of the works also add a solo instrument to the familiar mix of voices and organ. But perhaps most importantly, all the pieces recorded here sit comfortably under the heading of ‘Popular Choral Classics’.

Allegri’s Miserere is counted among the great classics of church music. Part of its mystique stems from its origins; for many years the work was performed only in the Sistine Chapel, and as with other works tied to a single place it became an object for pilgrimage. In this case the pilgrims included Mendelssohn, as well as Mozart who famously noted down the work from memory after leaving the Vatican, thereby risking excommunication by the Catholic Church. This new release also features Stanford’s Jubilate, which was written for Trinity College, Cambridge.
Intended as part of the service of Morning Prayer, it has long been one of the most popular canticles in the Anglican repertoire. In keeping with the text, Psalm 100, the tone is festive throughout.

Reviews

“The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, is one of the finest of the traditional English choral foundations, and the present recording demonstrates how richly deserved that reputation is.”

William J Gatens – American Record Guide  March- April 2011

 

“... dazzlingly varied ...”  “The rich programme also, of course, highlights the sheer flexibility and technical quality of the choir, which is caught in rich, precise sound ...”
Brian Morton
 

Choir & Organ Magazine - March/April 2011

"...the St John’s boys are on top form."
JW

Limelight - February 2011

“..The predominately meditative, prayerful selection has something to suit every taste; the choir sings suavely and radiantly without resorting to cathedral prissiness; the recorded sound is superb. A joy all round.” ****
 

Classic FM Magazine - February 2011

"English tradition of choral singing is alive and well. The men and boys of Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge, directed by Andrew Nethsingha, sing beautifully on this program of music written between the first half of the 16th century and 2007. Allegri’s famed Miserere, here sounding far different than when sung by Chanticleer, rubs shoulders with music by Grieg, Part, Rachmaninoff, MacMillan, Franck, Vaughan Williams, Rutter, Faure, Parry, and several Renaissance composers. Parsons’ Ave Maria is gorgeous. The boy trebles are especially radiant, the tone pious and reverential, and the sound, captured in high-resolution SACD surround, exceptional."
Jason Victor Serinus

Bay Area Reporter - 17 December 2010

“… an admirable choir and a nicely varied programme.”
John T Hughes 

International Record Review - December 2010

“Choral  ‘classics’ old and new show the St John’s Choir to be in rude health”
 John Stearne

Gramophone - January 2011

                      Performance ****      Recording ******
“The choir of St John’s College, Cambridge follows up its debut Chandos release, an outstanding Howells anthology, with this more populist collection of ‘choral classics’. Populist in no way implies perfunctory: the poised, sentient performance of Allegri’s famous Miserere opening the disc bespeaks dedicated preparation, both technical and spiritual.”
“…John’s are a choir in fulsome health.”

Terry Blain

BBC Music Magazine - Christmas - 2010

                   ****
“…The boy treble voices bring lustre and freshness to the sonority and the singing throughout is stirring and polished.”
                                                          
Geoffrey Norris
 

The Telegraph - 30 October 2010

 

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