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Hymns in demonstration, with BASIL RAMSEY

Collegium    COLCD 126

Record Box


Sing, ye Heavens. Copyright (c) 2000 Collegium Records

Every so often the smaller labels specialising in choral and church music release elaborate hymn anthologies, and none come better than this, which gathers seasoned choral singers, professional brass, expertise from a harpist, John Scott at the organ, and masterminder John Rutter. They chose a London City church with flattering acoustic, and the rest follows naturally.

There's no wild indulgence in overkill: several of the hymns come in original clothing, like Gibbons' sublime Drop, drop slow tears [listen - track 10, 0:00-0:32]. Of the 21 hymns in this collection, the only one I would have preferred to miss is Amazing Grace, but such a setting delicate with harp decoration deserves a place considering its mammoth popularity. John Rutter has provided a good setting of his own words Eternal God to supplement the meagre supply of hymns that give praise for Music itself.

Of the stirring hymns known to Christian churchgoers internationally, Luther's Ein' feste Burg stands out, with Rutter creating unusual atmosphere for the Prince of Darkness verse [listen - track 3, 2:25-3:37]. Significant plainsong hymns have a place, all treated with flowing simplicity.

Church musicians no doubt will take note of this, yet its professionalism gives the performances spirit and polish to ensure churchfolk a useful anthology of widely-known hymns.



Copyright © 13 September 2000 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK






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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Wednesday series of shorter CD reviews