Winchester Cathedral Choir / David Hill

John Tavener: Thunder Entered Her

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The Winchester Cathedral Choir, a choir of men and boys, is featured on this album devoted to John Taverner's choral music. David Hill leads the group in performances of remarkably focused intensity. Most of the works performed here move at a glacial pace, requiring exceptional discipline in maintaining a sustained tone quality that is pure and controlled, and the choir is fully successful in bringing it off. In The Lament of the Mother of God, for a cappella chorus and soprano soloist, the choir essentially provides a series of harmonically complex drones, some going on uninterrupted for minutes, over which the soloist floats a serene, chant-like melody, and the effect is mesmerizing. Hymns of Paradise, for boy's voices, bass soloist, organ, and six violins, has considerably more activity and variety both texturally and rhythmically, but its mood is still one of rapt wonder and timelessness. Thunder Entered Her, accompanied by organ and handbells, uses similar means to create a work of spacious awe and mystery. David Dunnett leads the choir in a committed and dramatic performance of God Is With Us (A Christmas Proclamation). It actually does have more the character of a proclamation than an anthem, with tenor William Kendall delivering a stentorian announcement of the birth of Christ. The sound is immaculate and manages to be absolutely clear and clean, but with a good amount of resonance, creating a sense of a vast performing space, which is ideal for this repertoire.

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