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Track(s) taken from CDA67650

Downing Service

2009; composed for Camilla Godlee
author of text
Magnificat: Luke 1: 46-55; Nunc dimittis: Luke 2: 29-32

Wells Cathedral Choir, Matthew Owens (conductor), Jonathan Vaughn (organ)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: June 2011
Wells Cathedral, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: April 2012
Total duration: 7 minutes 22 seconds

Cover artwork: Bowls by Charlie Baird (b1955)


'Chilcott writes a tune of such beauty, one is totally beguiled. This disc of premiere recordings reveals the many sides of the composer. His skill, sincerity and practicality shine through … Matthew Owens coaxes scintillating performances from his choristers—it is a choir one would never tire of listening to' (Choir & Organ)

'There's plenty of fluid writing for the choir and two excellent soloists, whose interaction produces ravishing textures' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Chilcott's Requiem, mostly set to Latin texts, pays homage to its great predecessors yet has its own distinctive, serene, meditative quality, beautifully rendered by the mixed voices of Wells Cathedral Choir, Laurie Ashworth (soprano) and Andrew Staples (tenor)' (The Observer)

'This is music that is meant and deeply felt … Matthew Owens directs superlative performances from the choir, instrumentalists from the Nash Ensemble and organist Jonathan Vaughn. The engineering places us comfortably in that stunning building' (International Record Review)

'A lovely recording … this is a particularly gorgeous and uplifting work, delivered here with great sensitivity and eloquence. Owens ensures some crisp, immaculate entries, wonderful tonal purity and excitingly varied dynamics' (The Oxford Times)
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

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