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Track(s) taken from CDA67483

Lord, I call upon thee

author of text
various Psalm verses

St Paul's Cathedral Choir, John Scott (conductor), Huw Williams (organ)
Recording details: March 2004
St Paul's Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: January 2005
Total duration: 4 minutes 52 seconds

Other recordings available for download

St Albans Cathedral Choir, Stephen Darlington (conductor), Andrew Parnell (organ) This recording is not available for download


'The performances are excellent, as are William McVicker's booklet-notes, and the great echo's presence is felt as friend, not foe' (Gramophone)

'If this is Scott's swan song with the St Paul's Choir, it is a brilliant one. The choral tone and discipline are outstanding … The Hyperion engineers demonstrate that they know how to record a choir in a highly reverberant setting. The tone is always clear but sumptuous, giving the listener a feel for the immense space involved yet never obscuring the musical textures. The audible reverberation at the pauses in Parry's Lord, let me know mine end is nothing short of breathtaking' (American Record Guide)

'Each piece in this collection—those considered first-rate, those considered perhaps less than first-rate, and those perhaps scarcely considered at all—is given added quality through the pedigree of the performers and the performances; thus many find a stature which would surprise the cynic. If this CD enables some standard works to receive reference performances, and some lesser works to receive a fresh popularity, then it will have done more than most such collections. Warmly recommended' (Organists' Review)
After a short spell teaching in Windsor, Sir Edward Bairstow (1874–1946) was in 1893 articled to Sir Frederick Bridge at Westminster Abbey, where he stayed for six years as pupil and amanuensis. He also held an appointment as organist and choirmaster at All Saints’ Church, Norfolk Square, in London, until 1899 when he went to Lancashire to take up the post of organist at Wigan Parish Church. In 1906 he moved to Leeds Parish Church and was appointed organist of York Minster in 1913, a post he held until his death in 1946. He took the Doctorate of Music examinations at the University of Durham in 1902 and became professor of music there in 1929. This did not necessitate a move from York to Durham, for he was only required to give one lecture each year in order to fulfil his commitment.

Bairstow’s music has been recorded on several of the discs in this series of The English Anthem – a testament to the esteem in which his work is still held. Scarcely a month in the life of any choral foundation will go by without Bairstow’s music appearing on the music lists. He seems able to create an atmosphere in his music and to evoke the great spaces of a cathedral by dramatic or intimate musical gestures that reflect the detailed attention he paid to the text he was working on. This contrasts well with the work of Stanford, who frequently produces a straightforward musical structure and a singable tune that one could whistle on the way home. Bairstow, by contrast, is interested in the relationship of the organ part to the choral parts, building great climaxes in the music and contrasting them with simple yet dramatic ideas. The technical construction of the work is subservient to the music which often feels as if it is almost continuously unfolding on a vast canvas. His approach is scholarly and meticulous, showing the influence of Bach and Brahms.

The comparison with Stanford is interesting, because it was the latter who helped church music move away from the ‘full’ and ‘verse’ anthem structures which characterize not only the music of the Georgian composers, but which hung over through much of the nineteenth century and which can be readily identified in the musical structures of, say, Attwood, Goss and S S Wesley. Ouseley and Crotch were both formidable and influential figures in church music of the mid-Victorian period. Ouseley, strongly associated with the Oxford Movement, offered the view that liturgical music should be sober and avoid the frivolity which had characterized the musical efforts of the Georgians – particularly organists who improvised on themes from the latest opera – whilst Crotch expressed the view that S S Wesley’s anthem The Wilderness was effectively degenerate art because it stepped outside the recognized boundaries of what was acceptable ‘church fayre’. Stanford broke away from this mould and, while we do not think of him as an iconoclast, he opened the way for perfection as a miniaturist which is difficult to better. Stanford and Parry both allowed their organ parts to be freed from becoming mere accompaniments and effectively paved the way for Bairstow to unfold his own musical genius in a less inhibited way.

Francis Jackson, in his book Blessed City: the Life and Works of Edward C. Bairstow, notes that the orchestral oboe stop introduced towards the end of Lord, I call upon thee in the organ accompaniment ‘accompanied by Debussyan chords, magically ushers in the words “I will lay me down in peace and take my rest: for it is thou, Lord, only that makest me dwell in safety” conveying exactly the feeling of deep relaxation when the eyes swivel as sleep approaches’. The work dates from 1916 – a time when both Debussy and Ravel were in full creative flow. Bairstow was a follower of contemporary music and is known to have had copies of the music of these composers almost as soon as it was published.

from notes by William McVicker © 2005

Other albums featuring this work

English Cathedral Music of the 20th Century
A66018Archive Service (LP transfer)This album is not available for download
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