This 2014 Hyperion collection of 22 hymns sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey is a straightforward presentation of familiar versions for choir and organ. For the most part, the arrangements are conventional four-part settings, with occasional interpolations of seldom-heard harmonizations and descants, and the performances by the men and boys are appropriately reverent and joyous. The majority of selections are hymns of praise, including Praise, my soul, the king of heaven; Thine be the glory; and Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, though Drop, drop slow tears; I bind unto myself today; and Let all mortal flesh keep silence bring a more somber and penitential mood to the program. The recordings were made in late 2012 and early 2013 in Westminster Abbey, so the sound of the album is typically resonant and spacious, and the choir has a well-blended tone, though the trade-off for the glorious acoustics is a loss of clarity in some of the words.
Our second October release from Westminster Abbey tells the story of the religious and political turmoil that engulfed England in the sixteenth century, and from which composers of liturgical music could find no escape. They were forced to follow the changing edicts about permitted texts as the pendulum of power oscillated between traditional and reformed religion. Interestingly, this period saw the greatest flowering of church music in England’s history; some of the most magnificent works of the age are recorded here.
Westminster Abbey has been the focus of British royal occasions for centuries, and the early seventeenth century saw the most dazzling musicians of the age writing music for the Court in all its various incarnations. This fascinating disc presents a selection of works from the reign of King James I.