The listener who enjoys the sound of all-boy choirs can pick from quite a variety of approaches among the venerable British cathedral organizations as well as newer groups that have sprung up. The Choristers of St. Paul's Cathedral offer a middle ground between a pure traditional sound with lots of unaccompanied Renaissance music and newer pop-influenced styles. The music here, mostly accompanied with an orchestra playing a nicely varied set of arrangements by City of London Sinfonia conductor John Scott and others, is above all distinguished by its great tunes. Those tunes may be in relics of the Victorian and Edwardian eras (Hubert Parry's Long since in Egypt's plenteous land), other Romantic works, music by contemporary purveyors of pleasing melody (John Rutter), in hymns such as the title track, or in folk songs, of which there are several famous ones on the disc. If you enjoy tunes like Annie Laurie or The Ash Grove, the versions here are pretty without being cute. Several of the child soloists are worth hearing, and Connor Burrowes, on the title track, has an extremely unusual, almost English horn-like sound that fits beautifully with that underrated American gospel hymn (by the Rev. Robert Lowry, who also wrote Shall We Gather at the River?). The choir is straightforward and communicative, never seeming over-drilled, and the recording, done partially in a studio, brings them a bit closer to the listener than cavernous cathedral sound often does. The absence of texts is a negative; you'll get 75 percent of the words, but not all of them. And Scott's arrangement of Sullivan's The Lost Chord heaps a bit too much weight on that slight scrap of kitsch. Still, this disc will find a treasured place in many choral collections.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Requiem, for 2 solo voices, chorus, organ & orchestra, Op. 48|
The Call ("Come, my way"), song for baritone, chorus (ad lib.) orchestra (or organ) (Mystical Songs No. 4)
|Samson, oratorio, HWV 57|
|Elijah (Elias), oratorio, Op. 70|