<< -- 3 -- Robert Hugill IMAGINATIVE PROGRAMME
The disc closes with Cecilia McDowall's excellent St Martin's Magnificat with its spicy harmonies and rhythms
[listen -- track 15, 0:07-1:19], Arvo Pärt's Littlemore Tractus and Philip Moore's gentle, song-like anthem Through the day thy love hast spared us
[listen -- track 17, 0:01-1:08].
The choir gave the first performance of the Pärt in 2001 at Littlemore church. The title refers to the text of the piece, which comes from a sermon preached at Littlemore church by John Henry Newman just before he was received into the Roman Catholic Church. Pärt's piece juxtaposes the calm homophony of the choir with a more mobile organ part. Though their performance could be said to be definitive, I would have liked the organ to have had a little more prominence in the choral passages.
The choir sing to an impressive standard and Vaughan Williams's 'Psalm 23' features some lovely solo singing. But inevitably with such a wide range of material not everything is perfect. Just occasionally the early items lack the crispness of delivery which the choir generally brings to this repertoire. In Howells' Like as the Hart I would have liked a more relaxed sound, a better blend of voices, though the musicianship displayed by the choristers is still to a high standard.
This disc has many attractive moments and it makes a fine showcase for the talents of the choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields and for its place in the church's work. But the programme has been selected and organised in a way which is potentially off-putting for people who have no association with St Martins.