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Classical - Released April 26, 2019 | Signum Records

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Classical - Released October 21, 2016 | Signum Records

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The St. John's College Choir (men and boys) has enjoyed wide success with previous holiday releases, partly due to excellent engineering (Signum's work in the St. John's College Chapel here is exemplary), more due to the clarity of the choral singing, and most of all due to the fresh and coherent programming concepts offered by director Andrew Nethsingha. Here the concept is stated briefly in the booklet, along with a brief background on the mostly new music: Christmas music, annotator Charlotte Gardner notes, is inseparable from tradition, but increasingly the Christmas album serves to expose new music especially in the English choral tradition. So here you get a variety of short pieces (three-and-a-half minutes max), rooted in, but not hewing to, traditional carols, a few of them by well-known composers (John Rutter, Bob Chilcott, Peter Warlock), but the majority are by names that will be new even to many English listeners. The overall mood is meditative, with just a few of the bumping-along, organ-accompanied sorts of work; much of the music is a cappella. Sample I Wonder as I Wander by the Swiss composer Carl Rutti: it's more than a setting of the American folk hymn, but not quite a fantasy of it. It might be termed a reflection on the hymn, and that formulation, one way or another, applies to many of the works on Christmas with St. John's, despite their brevity. A wonderful holiday release with a good measure of seriousness. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 19, 2018 | Signum Records

Booklet
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Classical - Released May 18, 2018 | Signum Records

Hi-Res Booklet
The sacred music of Ralph Vaughan Williams is made problematic by the fact that he was, in the words of philosopher Bertrand Russell, a "confirmed atheist." However, to use the elegant phrase of annotator Ceri Owens, he "embraced the church as a place where a broad populace might regularly encounter a shared cultural heritage." That embrace took two forms, ably explored here by conductor Andrew Nethsingha (whose renown has advanced to a point where his surname can be used by itself on the cover as a selling point). The first, exemplified by the Mass in G minor of 1921, involved an essentially personal response to Christianity, stimulated partly by Vaughan Williams' experiences on the battlefields of World War I, and partly by a mystical streak in his personality that manifested itself as well in nonreligious works. This Mass was shaped by the growing awareness of English Renaissance polyphony, but it fuses that in a unique way with the Impressionist-inspired harmonies of Vaughan Williams' early career. It's a dry but curiously affecting work, rendered here with the proper distance by Nethsingha and the Choir of St. John's College, Cambridge. The other aspect of Vaughan Williams' sacred music was more public and official, represented here by the Te Deum in G major written in 1928 and including the anthem O Taste and See of 1953, written for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Some of these pieces involve an organ (and there is a rarely heard prelude as well from organist Joseph Wicks), and Nethsingha does well to coax a bigger sound with a bit of vibrato and choral muscle, out of his buttoned-down Cambridge chorister. In all, a fine collection of pieces from an important and somewhat neglected part of Vaughan Williams' output. © TiVo
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Classical - Released February 28, 2019 | Signum Records

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Classical - Released February 13, 2019 | Signum Records

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