Chilcott’s setting of the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis, the ‘Downing Service’, was written for the organ scholar of Downing College, Cambridge, Camilla Godlee. Unsurprisingly, it is another text that has many memories for Chilcott. ‘At King’s’, he says, ‘as a chorister and choral scholar, there were all these new settings all the time, by composers like Robert Saxton, Gordon Crosse, Kenneth Leighton, the last of the Howells settings. Then in the 1980s and ’90s there seemed to be a tailing off—apart from the odd exception: Giles Swayne and John Tavener, for instance. Now there seems to be a real renaissance of settings, which is very encouraging.’ The Magnificat is—on the surface—relatively simple, comprising just two melodic ideas, ‘but it’s actually quite tricky, as the parts are constantly changing’, says Chilcott; while the Nunc dimittis is a slow-moving, epic crescendo to the radiant words ‘a light to lighten the Gentiles: and to be the glory of thy people Israel’.
from notes by Jonathan Wikeley © 2012