Brian Hick
The Organ
March 2011

We have had many fine recordings over the years from the Temple Church and it is pleasing to find these new releases up to the same high standards. James Vivian's solo disc draws on a familiar repertoire but is none the less welcome, opening with a Whitlock Fanfare before Walford Davies' Solemn Melody. John Stanley’s Voluntary in D and S S Wesley's popular Choral Song and Fugue give us a sense of the eighteenth century voices the Temple Harrison can provide while the move to Basil Harwood’s Sonata No1 in C sharp minor, gives a more romantic breadth to the disc. The warmth of sound is particularly pleasing throughout and the addition of Howells' Rhapsody and Jackson’s fine Toccata, Chorale & Fugue make this a well balanced collection which will repay careful listening.

The choral collection is formed around three setting of the Te Deum, opening with Purcell's, in a very clean and sparkling reading. Elgar's setting seems pleasantly conservative when set against Howells' 1944 working of the same text. Between these we hear Purcell’s My beloved spake and—rather unexpectedly—Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb. Simply looking at the cover I had expected the Britten to feel somewhat out of place among the other works but was easily convinced as it flows smoothly from Elgar through to Howells.

The solo voices are all of pleasingly high quality and show individual personalities without overtly drawing attention to themselves—a fine piece of choral direction in balancing the two. This is the first recording of the choir for Signum and promises a close and productive relationship.