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Hyperion Records

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The Court of Trinity College, Cambridge by William Westall (1781-1850)
Private Collection / The Stapleton Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67737
Recording details: July 2008
Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Produced by Adrian Peacock
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: May 2009
Total duration: 24 minutes 51 seconds

'Soloists and chorus alike excel in three of Handel's Chandos Anthems … the 40 members of the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, sing with flexibility and lightness … Emma Kirkby shows her stylistic intelligence and masterful communication of text in the opening of HWV252. It is enjoyable to hear some of Handel's lesser-known and more intimate church music performed with such elegant restraint and skill' (Gramophone)

'There is vintage Handel to be gleaned here … Layton offers luxury casting, Iestyn Davies and Neal Davies on particularly commanding form … the only thing missing on this disc are the words 'Vol. 1'. Such 'Handel with care' deserves nothing less' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Stephen Layton is on a roll … his inspirational direction and choice of top soloists makes this a welcome addition to earlier recordings. The choir sings with their usual purity of tone and clear diction whle the Academy of Ancient Music plays with convincing vigour in the sprightly double-dotted passages' (The Observer)

'The choir's firm tone and tightly disciplined singing, coupled with the Academy's polished ensemble and phrasing, are a considerable improvement on The Sixteen and O'Reilly's sometimes raw and slightly untidy performances … Emma Kirkby's contributions are unfailingly masterful. Her solo, backed by the choir, in HWV252's lyrical opening movement and in HWV254's gentle soprano aria, 'God's tender mercy', are high points of these performances, easily outclassing Christopher's two sopranos … the young countertenor Iestyn Davies also sings impressively' (International Record Review)

'Very good performances … Emma Kirby sings with beauty and authority … much to enjoy here' (Fanfare, USA)

'Emma Kirkby's voice has only improved with age; her tone is warmer and rounder, and her interpretive instincts, always sound, are fully on display here. The other three soloists are equally strong … this choir always is a pleasure to hear—singers this well trained and intelligent don't put a foot wrong anywhere—and the orchestra needs no confirmation of its baroque-music-playing credentials. Conductor Stephen Layton seems to be popping up everywhere these days—and we're all the luckier for that' (ClassicsToday.com)

'Der Choir of Trinity College überzeugt mit klarem Stimmfokus, hoher Koloratursicherheit und exzellenter Aussprache … Nuancen bringen die vier Solisten nahezu optimal zur Geltung' (Fono Forum, Germany)

O praise the Lord with one consent 'Chandos Anthem No 9', HWV254
composer
between August 1717 and summer 1718
author of text
Psalm 135: 1-3, 5; 117: 1, 2; 148: 1-2
author of text
Psalm 135: 1-3, 5; 117: 1, 2; 148: 1-2

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The texts of O praise the Lord with one consent are taken from three psalms (135, 117 and 148) in the metrical versions of Tate and Brady. No opening Sonata is provided, but the first chorus has an unusually long orchestral introduction by way of compensation. The trebles alone enter with the first four notes of the opening theme, and the other voices join in on the words ‘with one consent’, a naïve but amusing touch. The theme itself resembles the first phrase of the tune ‘St Anne’, first printed in England in 1708 and now best known as the tune for Isaac Watts’s hymn ‘O God, our help in ages past’. (It also appears in J S Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E flat, BWV552.) However, Handel had already used a similar idea in the opening Sonata of his cantata Tu fedel? tu costante?, composed in Rome in 1707, so the resemblance to the hymn tune is probably coincidental. Three vocally demanding solos follow, the first two (in minor keys) providing the contrasts in mood that Handel always seems anxious to maintain throughout the anthems. The last of the group, ‘That God is great’ for bass, is a reworking of a solo in the Queen Anne Birthday Ode. In the following chorus, ‘With cheerful notes’, Handel boldly uses diminuendo effects to suggest voices rising to heaven. The last solo, ‘God’s tender mercy’, again in a minor key, becomes a highly personal acknowledgement of divine compassion. Major keys return for the final pair of choruses, and the anthem is brought to an exciting close with a combination of ideas finally settling into a triumphant peal of Alleluias.

from notes by Anthony Hicks © 2009

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