Kenneth Leighton’s music is at the heart of English Cathedral repertoire, and demonstrates the composer’s happy absorption in this milieu from an early age. This disc from Wells Cathedral includes some first recordings of his major works in impeccable, lasting performances.
The majestic Sequence for All Saints is a marvellously consolatory work which is cast in a continuous span of five sections. The use of a congregational hymn at the end makes the music a seamless and integral part of worship. The recording of The World’s Desire is the work’s first. This extensive work arose from a commission in which Leighton was requested to write a work that reflected facets of both the Western and Eastern liturgy relating to the Feast of the Epiphany. In the Epiphany story, the Western liturgy places a stronger emphasis on Christ’s divinity as manifested at his baptism in the river Jordan. By comparison the Orthodox liturgy focuses on St John’s image of the Epiphany being ‘the day of light’ with Christ portrayed as ‘the light of men’. This dichotomy presented a particular challenge to Leighton and the result is a stirring, triumphant work which combines the traditions of the Anglican and Russian Orthodox liturgies to great effect.
Wells Cathedral has maintained a choral tradition virtually unbroken for over 800 years. Hyperion’s engineers have here captured the glorious singing of the choir in the matchless acoustic of the cathedral.