The title of this Hyperion release might lead some to expect a collection of Easter or mass-related music, but in fact the program is devoted to the work of a single composer, Kenneth Leighton, whose church music has outlasted his death in 1988 and, with its focus on liturgical content, remains common in cathedral and university chapel usage. The music here, a cappella or accompanied by an organ, makes a good introduction to Leighton, although some of the same pieces are featured on a release on Hyperion's budget line Helios. Conductor Stephen Layton gets some of the warm sound out of the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, that he elicits from his own small choir, Polyphony, and it's well suited to Leighton's music with its rich late-Romantic, sometimes almost atonal harmony grafted onto a strong sense of English tradition and Bachian counterpoint. In Leighton's quieter pieces like the 1968 Missa brevis (tracks 5-9) included here, he hit on a musical language unlike anybody else's, lyrical in the English way yet unmistakably modern. The mass is perhaps more distinctive than the big Magnificat and Nunc dimittis "Collegium Magdalenae Oxoniense" that open the album, but that work has proven durable down through the years, and all the music gives the sense of a composer personally engaged with the texts. Hyperion's engineers, working in a pair of Trinity College locations, do superb work. Recommended for adherents of the British choral mainstream.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Magnificat and Nunc dimittis "Collegium Magdalanae Oxoniense"|
|Missa brevis, Op. 50|
|Missa de Gloria, Op. 82|
|The Second Service, Op. 62|
|Crucifixus pro nobis, Op. 38|