Chichester Cathedral Choir / Charles Harrison

Lest We Forget

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A number of recordings, choral and otherwise, appeared in 2018 to mark the centenary of the armistice that ended World War I. Among the choral group, you can find blood-and-guts programs as well as loftier ones, semi-religious in tone, from the period. With Lest We Forget, you'll find a powerful combination of the two. Part of the appeal comes from the presence of a pair of organ works played by Charles Harrison, also the conductor of the Chichester Cathedral Choir since 2014. These bring the war up close, and they're not well-known pieces. Sample the Rhapsody, Op. 17, No. 3, which Herbert Howells wrote in a single night during German zeppelin raid. That work and the other organ pieces showcase the fine Chichester Cathedral organ, which will make you want to hear more, perhaps some Bach works, on this instrument, and they make a strong foil for the more reflective choral pieces. The cathedral itself has a rather stark, craggy acoustic that certainly sets this choir apart from its better-known counterparts; you get neither the warmth nor the perfect smoothness here that you may associate with the cathedral sound, but what you do get is an unusually committed performance that fits the subject matter in an uncanny way, with some extraordinary organ pieces. Highly recommended.

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