Robert King / The King's Consort / King's Consort Choir

I Was Glad: Sacred Music of Stanford and Parry

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Recordings of music from the late 19th century on authentic instruments are not common, but conductor Robert King and the King's Consort make a strong case for them on this recording of religious and ceremonial music by Charles Villiers Stanford and Hubert Parry. For the orchestral strings, the shift from gut to metal strings was almost as consequential as the evolution of modern bows a century before, and the results for Stanford's service music here are magical. These warm, Brahmsian pieces, not at all common, receive lovely performances here, amplified by the soaring soprano of Carolyn Sampson. The players have even researched such minutiae as the proper length of tuning peg; the differences made by such factors must be apparent only to very expert ears, but the end product is convincing. The period winds and brasses make a strong impression as well in the larger works by Parry, which are likewise rarely heard in their original orchestral versions (the final Jerusalem was orchestrated by Edward Elgar). The Choir of the King's Consort, with perhaps 35 singers, feels a bit undersized for this music, although this aspect seems likewise to have been well researched. But the impressive engineering captures the detailed balances King pursues, and Sampson's joyous singing is worth acquiring whenever possible. The fact that sounds unheard since a century or more ago have been faithfully and lovingly re-created here far outweighs any reservations about individual aspects of the performance.

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