St. Paul's Cathedral Choir, London / Andrew Carwood

Canticles from St. Paul's Cathedral, London

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A canticle is a song of praise with a biblical text from some other source than the lyrical Psalms. Two of the most famous, especially in the Anglican church, are the Magnificat ("My soul doth magnify the Lord") and Nunc dimittis ("Now you dismiss your servant, O Lord"), and what listeners get here are five settings of the Magnificat-Nunc dimittis pair, interspersed with a few other pieces. The repertory is all English, and the program moves unusually from Romantic to modern and back again, with organ-accompanied piece and a cappella works; the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis of Michael Tippett reveal links to the grand English tradition here and come off quite convincingly. Walton's Coronation Te Deum is a splendid piece written for the coronation of Elizabeth II. But the biggest reason to listen to this is simply the singing of the St. Paul's Cathedral Choir ("boy Choristers and Vicars Choral") in music they know well, in their home space whose sonic environment they know down to minute shades. The texts come through fully intelligible, and the result provides plenty of food for reflection on the differing attitudes of the composers involved to the words in common. The boys of the choir have real texture, and they engage themselves with the words. This is a strong example of the classic English cathedral style throughout.

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