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Music for Men's Voices

Gentlemen of Durham Cathedral/
James Lancelot/Keith Wright (organ)

CD Review

Gentlemen of Durham Cathedral make a good team, enough for a sensitive ensemble to range through repertory and mix a flavoursome musical omelette. Most of the music here is sturdy enough to stand on its own, giving this record the resilience often denied to CD church music compilations that sag at the knees.

Amongst the best of this programme of 14 items, the little-known 16th century Osbert Parsley's Lamentations sets the text with enough starkness and friction to carry the bleak message, which is delightfully contrasted with a vigorous extract from a Schutz' psalm setting. Before an impressive multi-male-voice setting of the Evening Canticles by York Minster's Phillip Moore, is the simple beauty of a motet by Richard Lloyd, a perfect foil to the canticles just heard and what follows.

The last track makes a glorious finale. Durufle's Messe 'Cum jubilo' uses much the same language as his Requiem, with a ravishing balance of modal voices against the glowing colours and textures of the organ.

Durham's CD, therefore, has a purpose: good church music carefully programmed and sung (and accompanied) with conviction. If only that objective came to the surface more often.

Copyright © Basil Ramsey, March 31st 1999



Gentlemen of Durham Cathedral/
James Lancelot/Keith Wright (organ)

Priory PRCD 625     DDD        Duration: 74 m

Recorded by Neil Collier in Durham Cathedral, June 1997


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