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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67593
Recording details: July 2006
Westminster Abbey, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Summerly
Engineered by Simon Eadon & David Hinitt
Release date: February 2007
Total duration: 19 minutes 25 seconds

'The Abbey Choir … give an excellent account of themselves, the trebles especially singing with the confidence of professional musicianship and with voices in fine, generous bloom. In some of the short, quieter pieces, such as They are at rest and Ecce sacerdos magnus, they achieve a standard as near perfection as any. And Robert Quinney is a tremendous asset: an organist who puts his technical skill to imaginative use, sometimes … to vivid effect. Recorded sound is both clear and spacious, and the authoritative booklet contains some evocative period photographs' (Gramophone)

'The Westminster Abbey Choir delivers its organ-accompanied programme with beautiful tonal colour and blend' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The most impressive items are Great is the Lord and Give unto the Lord, two powerfully expressive large-scale anthems composed just before the First World War. Their texts allow Elgar to explore a wide range of choral and organ effects in the service of some vividly graphic word-painting, which Westminster Abbey Choir bring to life with obvious relish' (The Daily Telegraph)

'James O'Donnell never lets a detail pass or an effect count for nothing; likewise the Westminster Abbey Choir. Rarities, such as the Queen Alexandra Memorial Ode of 1932, receive equal care and attention … above all, this disc projects Elgarian grandeur and dignity' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Every work on the disc receives a convincing performance. James O'Donnell has chosen the tempi carefully, allowing the music enough space to breathe in the Abbey's generous acoustic whilst managing to avoid any sense of dragging. The choir sings well throughout and almost without fail produces a well-blended sound. Robert Quinney's accompaniments are colourful and exciting … highly recommended' (Cathedral Music)

'The Choir of Westminster Abbey, directed by James O'Donnell, does great service in a programme ranging from his naive early pieces for his local Catholic Church, to Coronation music and an Ode, written for the unveiling of Queen Alexandra's memorial in 1932, one of his last pieces. Beautiful singing and sound quality from Hyperion' (Liverpool Daily Post)

'These choral works can be judged as small masterpieces' (ClassicsToday.com)

Te Deum and Benedictus, Op 34
First line:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel
composer
1897
author of text
Te Deum: Book of Common Prayer; Benedictus: Luke 1: 68-79

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Te Deum and Benedictus was written for chorus and orchestra for Elgar’s friend G R Sinclair (GRS of the Enigma Variations), organist of Hereford Cathedral, to mark the Hereford Three Choirs Festival in 1897. It was first heard there on 12 September 1897. Here Elgar takes two morning service canticles and treats them as a whole. This was the year of the Imperial March and The Banner of Saint George and Elgar was clearly aiming at a big, popular, setting, revelling in writing for large forces in a big space; the grand festival occasion was already meat and drink to him. The opening motif recurs throughout and in the Benedictus reappears at the words ‘And thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest’. Elgar has the Te Deum end serenely, gradually fading away on a long organ (or orchestral) postlude. In the Benedictus Elgar opens with the choir only lightly accompanied, if at all. Later however he signals the Gloria (‘Glory be to the Father …’) with a crash on the cymbals and now returns to the world of the Te Deum with a grand and celebratory treatment of the words.

from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2007

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