Page 6, 11th May 1979

11th May 1979
Page 6
Page 6, 11th May 1979 — Discs of finest Catholic choirs

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Locations: Jerusalem, Oxford


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Discs of finest Catholic choirs

Laetare Jerusalem by the London Oratory Junior Choir, directed by John Hoban, Music for Holy Week and Easter by the London Oratory Choir, directed by John Hoban.

Westminster Abbey Choir, directed by Douglas Guest. Durham Cathedral Choir, directed by Richard Lloyd. BBC Northern Singers, conducted by Stephen Wilkinson.

Westminster Abbey Organ played by Stephen Cleobury.

Records published by Abbey Records, Eynsham, Oxford.

It's fascinating to hear the varied choirs and styles to be found on the latest discs issued by Abbey Records. The most striking recordings are the two from Brampton Oratory. The senior choir produces an excellent tonal quality and sings with life, vigour and sensitivity. Their work is coloured by the evident sincerity and commitment of their Director — John Hoban.

I was thrilled to hear the recording of the Oratory Junior Choir. This splendid body of' singers is noted for its bright and colourful sound. Brompton Oratory doesn't have a choir school and rehearsal time is limited, yet Mr Hoban has been able to produce sensational results The choir contains both boys and girls and their recording is superior to the "mixed" or "girls only" choir. The London Oratory groups are the equal of any of their more famous Anglican counterparts: I consider them the finest Catholic choirs in the country.

A comparison of the Oratory records with those of Westminster Abbey and Durham Cathedral is most interesting. There's unquestionably a considerable difference in ethos between traditional Anglican and Catholic music, this shows at a superficial level in the dissimilarity between the forthright singing of the Oratory Junior Choir and the more refined tone of the boys from Westminster Abbey and Durham Cathedral.

I find some English cathedral singing dull and monotonous, but this is personal preference. However, I am convinced that both the Anglican and Catholic styles of singing represent equally important elements in the art of' music, Our own tradition of choral sound with its intensity, mysticism, brightness and commitment is a valuable part of our Catholic heritage. and its preservation is of considerable importance. Nevertheless. I have a genuine admiration for some aspects of the Anglican Cathedral style and in particular for the work of Douglas Guest, the Organist and Master of the His recording with the Abbey choir is of considerable merit. particularly liked the settings by Britten and Elgar, both sung with conviction and authority. Throughout the disc standards of performance are high and the Abbey's acoustic is well captured.

The recording of the Durham Cathedral .ChOii shows a group somewhat lacking in vocal resource bi:il nevertheless full of sensitivity and musicality.

The record of the BBC Northern Singers consists of contemporary English music. The positions are full of interest and beauty.

As well as the choral discs, there is also a recording of the Westminster Abbey Organ played by Stephen Cleobury. The tonal quality of the instrument is well reproduced. The playing is generally good but often dull.

Abbey Records are to be congratulated on an excellent series of discs. Technical standards are fine and the record company show a consistently high quality of musical imagination.

Colin Mawby

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