Another great disc from the dazzling Choir of St John’s College Cambridge under their Director of Music David Hill, collaborating with great musicians including Roderick Williams, Paul Provost and the Britten Sinfonia.
The music of Edward Bairstow (1874–1946) is an essential part of the British cathedral music tradition. He set his texts ‘with a beauty which makes one never able to think of the words without recalling the music’, as the Dean of York wrote on the occasion of his seventieth birthday. Certainly the more well-known works on this disc eminently fulfill this criterion. St John’s’ inspired recordings of these classic numbers in the matchless acoustic of the chapel make this a disc to treasure on these grounds alone.
However it also includes some glorious rarities from different points in Bairstow’s career, which demonstrate his mastery of different styles and developing harmonic language. The Five Poems of the Spirit are a particular highlight: beautiful and unusual settings of metaphysical poetry for solo baritone, choir and orchestra, performed with passionate commitment by the wonderful Roderick Williams.