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Hyperion Records

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Westminster Abbey (1904) by John Fulleylove (1845-1908)
Mary Evans Picture Library, Blackheath, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67680
Recording details: June 2007
Westminster Abbey, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Summerly
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: April 2008
Total duration: 7 minutes 30 seconds

'Everything is a joy here, including the modern works, the anthem Viri Galilaei by Patrick Gowers and Francis Pott's brilliant Toccata for organ, played with assured virtuosity by Robert Quinney. The choir of Westminster Abbey under James O'Donnell sing with the happy care which his choristers at the Cathedral used to bring to their work with him' (Gramophone)

'This close-your-eyes and you're there service is almost matter-of-fact in its excellence … it's good to see that English cathedral music is still intact: its future is represented by Francis Pott's Toccata, commandingly played by Robert Quinney, which rounds off a truly feel-good recording for cathedral music fans' (Choir & Organ)

'This addition to Westminster Abbey's invaluable series of music for feast-days gets off to a cracking start with Stanford's magnificent eight-part motet Caelos ascendit hodie. This sets a jubilant tone for the whole programme, which contains some outstanding 20th-century contributions to the Anglican repertoire, including Britten's Festival Te Deum with its exciting organ effects, Finzi's triumphant God is gone up and Patrick Gowers's Viri Galilaei, whose meditative opening leads to a paean of exultation. All these, and Schutz's Der 100. Psalm, are sung with exhilarating panache' (The Daily Telegraph)

'No one does this grand scale of Anglican service music better than Westminster Abbey, and again the performances of this very demanding music are of the highest order … truly a triumphant recording' (American Record Guide)

'The planning is astute … just as cunning is the way some old cathedral favourites nestle alongside more contemporary settings. O clap your hands and God is gone up may be Anglican staples, but they are given fresh and energetic renditions here, while the brief Stanford motet at the start is a most exhilarating introduction. Best of all, perhaps, is Ascension motet Viri Galilaei by Patrick Gowers … this splendid and dramatic setting with its concluding triumphant hymn is further vibrant proof of his sympathetic writing for voices' (International Record Review)

'After seven years at the helm, James O'Donnell has made a formidable singing outfit of the Westminster Abbey Choir … the treble line is robust and thrilling, its soloist, Jacob Ewens, a sinuous star in Britten's Te Deum in E' (The Times)

'Another offering to lift the soul heavenwards from James O'Donnell and his choir, as they continue their exploration of liturgical repertoire across the centuries … the first thing that hits you about the singing is the celebratory tone. The boys might be singing Stanford's Caelos ascendit hodie, but they could just as easily be trilling 'Woohoo! It's Ascension Day!'. I love such musical joie de vivre, and not every choir is able to produce it convincingly as these chaps. It doesn't come at the expense of quality, though; this is Westminster Abbey Choir at their crystalline best, with spot-on pitching, enviable articulation and sympathetic phrasing … it is a stirring, beautifully judged programme of music, performed to the highest standard' (bbc.co.uk)

Viri Galilaei
First line:
Alleluya. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven
composer
1988; for Richard Harries
author of text
Proper of the Mass on Ascension Day
author of text
See the Conqueror mounts in triumph

Other recordings available for download
St Paul's Cathedral Choir, John Scott (conductor), Andrew Lucas (organ)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The contemporary English composer Patrick Gowers is best known for his music for television and films, but his large output also contains several sacred choral works, of which the Ascensiontide anthem Viri Galilaei is the best known. Gowers paints a vividly dramatic and emotional picture of the Ascension of Jesus: one can almost visualize the scene as the dumbfounded apostles gaze up in amazement while high-pitched swirling organ figurations and ethereal overlapping choral ‘Alleluias’ convey the literal other-worldliness of what they are witnessing. Gradually the chordal writing for the choir assumes a more solid, less disembodied character, and the music becomes punchier and more rhythmic (‘God is gone up with a merry noise’). The build-up continues inexorably, leading to a thrilling glissando on the full organ and an elated verse of Christopher Wordsworth’s Ascension hymn ‘See the Conqueror mounts in triumph’, underpinned by a jazzy, propulsive organ part and dramatically interspersed with forceful ‘Alleluias’ and the swirling organ figurations heard at the start, but now louder and more prominent. After this, the music gradually subsides into the mystical mood of the opening and eventually disappears into nothing.

from notes by James O'Donnell © 2008


Other albums featuring this work
'The English Anthem, Vol. 2' (CDA66519)
The English Anthem, Vol. 2
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £10.50 CDA66519  Last few CD copies remaining  

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