King's College Choir of Cambridge / Stephen Cleobury / Alison Balsom

English Hymn Anthems

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This is not just another collection of Anglican church music, but is devoted to a specific genre, the hymn anthem, which became distinct around 1880 and picked up speed in the early 20th century as large churches sought ways to connect more directly with those who attended their services. It might be viewed as a sort of large, German, late-Romantic counterpart to the Bach cantata: composers built medium-sized pieces, mostly atop organ accompaniment (if you're buying the album for the popular trumpeter Alison Balsom, note that she appears only in at the very end), on well-known hymn tunes. There are a few organ-only pieces constructed according to the same principle. It's an appealing combination that seems to have led the composers involved -- a few big names including Parry, Stanford, and Vaughan Williams, but others largely forgotten outside of England -- to a new simplicity. The choristers of the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, responded to this simplicity with very strong performances, and the engineering work at their own chapel is absolutely superb. Recommended even for those who don't think they like English choral music.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 14:41
2 3:15
3 7:59
4 4:46
Seven Chorale Preludes Set 2
5 4:03
6 2:22
7 7:55
Three Preludes
8 4:21
9 10:24
Three Songs of Praise
10 2:09
11 3:01
12 7:46
blue highlight denotes track pick